Sovereign of the Seas

Clipper Ship

History of the Sovereign of the Seas

The Sovereign of the Seas was built at East Boston, Massachusetts in 1853.

Length overall



44 1/2'


23' 6"

Gross Tons


At the time Donald McKay built the Sovereign of the Seas she was the largest clipper to be launched. McKay had put his mind, body, and soul into the design and construction of this ship. But the finest ship needed the finest master. Laughlan McKay, brother of Donald, was the one to use the power and beauty of the Sovereign of the Seas to the utmost. Under him, the crew and ship became as one with a terrific urge to accomplish the impossible. The Sovereign of the Seas was driven but every nail, timber and line responded. For that is why her keel was laid.

On her maiden voyage to San Francisco from New York, in 1852, she was dismasted in a Pacific gale off South America. Any other ship or master would have limped into port for lengthy repairs. Not the Sovereign! She was rerigged at sea by braun and raw courage in the teeth of the gale and heavy seas. She sailed on to San Francisco in 103 days, one of the fastest runs of the season.

On her return voyage to New York, the Sovereign of the Seas chalked up a run of 400 sea miles in 24 hours. Never before had a sailing ship sailed so fast and only six other clipper ships ever attained this mark. Of this number, five were also built by Donald McKay.

The echoes of acclaim were still singing in her sails as the Sovereign of the Seas set out on her next voyage from New York to Liverpool. Thirteen days and twenty-three hours later she made fast at Liverpool. This established a record for that run that has never been equalled to this day by ships under sail.

Tempted by a good price, McKay sold the Sovereign of the Seas to Funch & Meinke of New York who later sold to J. C. Goffreyes of Hamburg. She served with honor on California, England and Australia runs.

With Queenly dignity, the Sovereign of the Seas ended her all too short career on the Malaccan Reefs in 1859.

Our Model

The Sovereign of the Seas is built on scaled down plans from the original design. The hull is expertly carved from select basswood. She has dull black topsides, while top rail, white sheer and antiqued copper-green bottom. Masts are white and natural with white spars. Fittings include accurately detailed deck houses, hatches, brass capstans, ship boats and other details that make this one of our most beautiful models. The base is mahogany with brass finished nameplates on each side of the name block.

Model Measurements

Length overall

20 1/2"


14 3/4"

Width of main yard

5 1/4"


How to Order

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