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American Merchant Lines History and Ephemera

In the fall of 1923, the Shipping Board disposed of several United States Lines vessels, including some sold to the Dollar Line. To replace these, the Shipping Board acquired five transport ships from the Army Transport Service. These were reconditioned and run as the American Merchant Lines under the management of J. H. Winchester and Company.

American Merchant Lines operated transatlantic services between the ports of New York, Plymouth, and London They uniquely named their vessels -- all starting with the word "American" followed by other common merchant terms including Banker, Farmer, Merchant, Shipper, Trader.

They sailed from Chelsea Piers, Pier 7, North River, New York, every Thursday direct from New York to London. These Piers were close to Pennsylvania Railroad and Grad Central Stations at the Foot of 18th Street.

Passengers were met at the Royal Albert Docks in London by Saloon Motor Coaches and Baggage Lorries that convey the passengers and baggage to Hearns Motor Coach Station, 234 Gray's Inn Road, London W.C.1 where luggage was sorted.

In 1924, services previously operated by five managing agents and the United States Lines from North Atlantic ports to the United Kingdom were consolidated under the management of two companies, one covering the east coast of the United Kingdom and the other the west coast of the UK and Irish ports.

The services to the east coast of the UK were given the trade name "American Merchant Lines" and those to the west coast of the United Kingdom and Irish ports the name "Oriole Lines." (Note 1)

During 1930, The United States Shipping Lines advertisements offered New York to London weekly service by five well-made ships of the American Merchant Lines for $100.

The Five Ships were the American Banker, American Merchant, American Importer, American Shipper, and American Trader.

Ephemera from the American Merchant Lines

1928-08-23 Passenger List for SS American Merchant

1928-08-23 SS American Merchant Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: One
  • Date of Departure: 23 August 1928
  • Route: New York to London
  • Commander: Captain not Disclosed
1929-04-18 Passenger List for SS American Trader

1929-04-18 SS American Trader Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: One
  • Date of Departure: 18 April 1929
  • Route: New York to London
  • Commander: Captain not Disclosed
Menu Cover for a Dinner Menu, SS American Trader, American Merchant Lines, April 1929

1929-04-21 SS American Trader Dinner Menu

Vintage Bill of Fare from 21 April 1929 featured Broiled Bluefish, Sauce Tartare, Baked Meat Pie, and for dessert, Ice Cream Melba and Assorted Pastries.

Front Cover, Farewell Dinner Menu, SS American Trader, American Merchant Lines, April 1929

1929-04-27 SS American Trader Farewell Dinner Menu

Vintage Bill of Fare from Saturday, 27 April 1929 featured Fried Boston Sole, Anchovy Butter, Tenderloin of Beef, Braised, with Mushrooms, and French Pastry for dessert. The menu included a list of executive officers and autographs.

1929-05-17 Passenger List for SS American Shipper

1929-05-17 SS American Shipper Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: One
  • Date of Departure: 17 May 1929
  • Route: London to New York
  • Commander: Captain not Disclosed
  • Other: Maiden Voyage
Dinner Menu, SS American Shipper, American Merchant Lines, 24 May 1929

1929-05-24 SS American Shipper Dinner Menu

Vintage Bill of Fare from 24 May 1929 featured Broiled Fillet of Salmon, Shrimp Patties, Fricasse of Chicken with Noodles, Compote of Cherries with Rice, Prime Ribs of Beef, Saddle of Lamb, and Green Apple Pie à la Mode for dessert.

Front Cover, SS American Shipper Dinner Menu - 26 May 1929

1929-05-26 SS American Shipper Farewell Dinner Menu

Vintage Bill of Fare from 26 May 1929 featured Chicken Liver Patties, Financiere, Roast Prime Ribs of Beef, and Ice Cream with French Pastries for dessert. Included List of Executive Officers and Autographs from Seven Dinner Guests.

Cover - American Merchant Lines New York to London - The Economical Way to Europe. Published November 1932

1932 - American Merchant Lines to Europe

These are some of the attractions of an American Merchant Lines crossing. . . every day of it memorably pleasant from the minute you go on board in New York until you sail up the famous Thames right into the City of London.

SS American Banker Dinner Menu 25 June 1932

1932-06-25 SS American Banker Farewell Dinner Menu

Vintage Bill of Fare from Saturday, 25 June 1932 featured Boiled Halibut with Sauce Hollandaise, Filet Steak with Mushrooms, and Peach Melba for dessert.

Front Cover, Passenger List, SS American Farmer, American Merchant Lines, June 1934, London to New York

1934-06-22 SS American Farmer Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: One
  • Date of Departure: 22 June 1934
  • Route: London for New York
  • Commander: Captain H. A. Pedersen, U.S.N.R
Luncheon Menu Card, SS American Farmer, American Merchant Lines, 1934

1934-06-28 SS American Farmer Luncheon Menu Card

Vintage Bill of Fare from 28 June 1934 featured Broiled Mackerel, Baked Pork and Beans, Braised Short Ribs of Beef and Boiled Ham.

Dinner Menu Card, SS American Farmer, American Merchant Lines, 1934

1934-06-29 SS American Farmer Dinner Menu Card

Vintage Bill of Fare from 29 June 1934 featured Long Island Duckling, Spaghetti à la Caruso and Prime Rib of Beef with Chocolate Eclairs for dessert. Included handwritten substitution of Wax Beans for Broccoli in Cream.

Menu Card - Breakfast Menu Card, SS American Farmer, American Merchant Lines, 1934

1934-06-30 SS American Farmer Breakfast Menu Card

Rare Vintage Bill of Fare from 30 June 1934 featured a typical PassengerClass selections for that era offering Salmon Fish Cake, Grilled Yorkshire Ham, Chipped Smoked Beef in Cream, and Rice Griddle Cakes with Maple Syrup for dessert.

1936-06-26 Passenger List for SS American Trader

1936-06-26 SS American Trader Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: One
  • Date of Departure: 26 June 1936
  • Route: London to New York via Boston
  • Commander: Captain Harold Milde, U.S.N.R

 

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