The Library’s collection of books on the history of sailing ships are only partially represented here.
If you do not see what you are looking for, please call the Library for more information at 310-548-7618 x 215.
Listed here are books and periodicals on sailing ships from ancient Egyptian or Greek sailing vessels to American Clipper ships and full-riggers. Works on sailing ships focus on sail as the primary means of propulsion for transporting goods, passengers, and navies. They deal with the ancient and modern history of sailing as it evolved from powering small vessels in the ancient world that used local navigation knowledge to the engineered relationship between vessel sail and vessel hull for speed under sail when industrialization began in Europe and the Americas. Book and periodical titles in this list are selected because they offer technical illustrations and photographs or paintings to accompany descriptions of historical sailing ships. Ships registers and reference books also feature steam, motor, diesel and other vessels, ships in the U.S. Navy and the Merchant Marines.
The books on sailing ships listed here were selected from the Library collections at the
Los Angeles Maritime Museum. More books are available than appear on this list, for
example books on voyages and travel accounts, battles, and descriptions of historic ships
are not listed here but are available at the Library. For more information on these
books please call the Library at 310-548-7618.
Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Registers and Reference Works
America and the Sea / Benjamin Larabee, et al., 1998.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships / E.M. Eller, editor ; foreword by
Arleigh Burke, et al. United States. Navy Department. Office of the Chief of Naval
Operations, 1959. This is a series in 8 volumes, published between 1959 and 1981.
Lloyd’s Register of Shipping / Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, 1926 – 2001 (some years
missing). Ships are registered by name. For each ship the following information is given
in tables: the register’s identification #s, ship’s name, owners, port of registry, tonnage,
classification, hull (date of construction, length overall, ship type, propulsion), cargo
facilities, machinery, boilers, etc.
Merchant Vessels of the United States. / United States Bureau of Customs, 1873-1980
(some years missing). The earliest publications listed vessels under different categories
such as Sailing, Steam, and Unrigged.
The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. / Peter Kemp, Oxford Univ. Press, 1976.
Encyclopedic reference book has some photographs and illustrations.
Record of American and Foreign Shipping./ American Bureau of Shipping, 1924;
1945 – 1993 (some issues missing). Ships registered by name.
Ships of the World : an Historical Encyclopedia / Lincoln P. Paine, 1997.
American sailing ships–History
The American fishing schooners, 1825-1935. / Howard I. Chapelle, 1973
Fast Sailing Ships : Their Design and Construction, 1775-1875 / David R.
The Search for Speed Under Sail 1700 to 1855 / Howard Chapelle, 1967
The History of the American sailing Navy; the ships and their development. /
Howard Irving Chapelle, 1949.
The History of American Sailing Ships / by Howard I. Chapelle ; with drawings by
the author, and George C. Wales and Henry Rusk.
Sailing ships (general)—History
These books are abundantly illustrated, featuring technical drawings, paintings and
illustrations of the periods portrayed. For books on maritime art, see below.
The Great Age of Sail. / [Texts by] B. W. Bathe [and others] with the collaboration of
Jean Merrien. Edited by Joseph Jobé. Translated by Michael Kellyim, 1967.
Great Sailing Ships; an Illustrated Catalogue and History of 150 Extant Barks,
Barkentines, Brigs, Brigantines, Frigates, Schooners, and other large sailing vessels
built since 1628. / by Otmar Schäuffelen. Translated by Inge Moore…, 1969.
The Rigging of Ships in the Days of the Spritsail Topmast 1600-1720. / R.C.
Anderson, 1927. Offers text, diagrams and photographs of ship models, copies of
engravings from the historical period.
Ships / Enzo Angelucci and Attilio Cucari, 1977
Books on merchant sailing ships by Basil Lubbock, featuring illustrations and technical drawings and charts.
The Arctic Whalers. / Basil Lubbock, 1955
The Blackwall Frigates./ Basil Lubbock, 1922.
Colonial Clippers. / Basil Lubbock, 1922.
Coolie Ships and Oil Sailers. / Basil Lubbock, 1955.
The Down Easters : American Deep-Water Sailing Ships, 1869-1929 /
Basil Lubbock, 1976.
The Last of the Windjammers, vols. 1 and 2. / Basil Lubbock, 1949, c1929.
The Log of the “Cutty Sark”. / Basil Lubbock, 1954.
The Nitrate Clippers / Basil Lubbock; with illustrations, 1976.
The Romance of the Clipper Ships / selected from “Sail” by Basil Lubbock ; illustrated
in full color by J. Spurling, 1972.
The Western Ocean packets / by Basil Lubbock, 1988.
California and the West Coast
Pacific Sail: Four Centuries of Western Ships in the Pacific /Roger Morris, 1987
Pacific Square Riggers; a Pictorial History of the Great Windships of Yesteryear /
Jim Gibbs, 1969.
Maritime History in Photography and Fine Art
American Marine Painting a loan exhibition on display at Virginia Museum
September 27-October 31, 1976 and Mariner’s Museum November 8 – December
12, 1976. / Virginia Museum, 1976.
American Naval Prints from the Beverly R. Robinson Collection U.S. Naval
Academy Museum, Annapolis, MD. / Introduction by Roger B. Stein. 1976.
The Art of Nautical Illustration : a Visual Tribute to the Achievements of the
Classic Marine Illustrators. / Michael E. Leek, 1998.
Dictionary of marine artists / Dorothy E.R. Brewington, 1982.
A Pacific Legacy—A Century of Maritime Photography 1850-1950. / Wayne Bonnett,
Sail: the romance of the clipper ships, pictured by J. Spurling, storied by Basil
Lubbock, edited by F.A. Hook, 1972.
Sailing Ships—Prints by the Dutch masters from the Sixteenth Century to the
Nineteenth Century. / Edited by Irene DeGroot and Robert Vorstman, 1980.
Stobart : the rediscovery of America’s maritime heritage / John Stobart with Robert
P. Davis, 1985.
Journals and magazines listed below offer articles on historical sailing ships. The title,
frequency of publication and Library holdings are listed here.
The American Neptune ; quarterly, 1968 to 1984.
Mains’l Haul ; quarterly, 1966 to 2005.
Mariners Mirror ; quarterly, 1967 to 1996.
Maritime Life & Traditions ; quarterly, 1998 to 2006. Ceased in 2007
Nautical Research Journal ; monthly, 1951 to 1981