Most of the "Sails" in the 1955 Topps Rails & Sails bubblegum set were paintings of generic historic and contemporary boats and ships.
There were, however, a number of named ships among the 70 "Sails" cards in the 200-card set.
My latest custom non-sports card adds one more, the famed R.M.S. Titanic. The luxury liner was so designated because it was a Royal Mail Service vessel. Among those on board were five postal clerks, two British and three American. While I find it hard to believe, it is said that on her ill-fated maiden voyage the Titanic was carrying seven million pieces of mail. None was ever recovered.
There are, of course, many paintings of the Titanic that are suitable for use on a Topps-style Rails & Sails card. There are at least two dramatic pieces that show the ship amid icebergs. These are night scenes, presumably meant to capture the scene at 11:40 p.m. (ship's time) on April 14, 1912, when the ship sideswiped a 3,000-year-old piece of glacier in the North Atlantic.
I was unaware that the fact that the sky was clear and the seas calm contributed to the disaster. Apparently such conditions don't provide a good look at where the iceberg and ocean meet.
If I was still printing cards, I would have decided against one of these night scenes because -- and this is the first time I've ever revealed this -- it is a personal peccadillo of mine that pictures of ships in storms or rough seas send a shiver down my spine. I sometimes think this lends credence to the theory of reincarnation; maybe in some past life I was lost in a shipwreck.
Since I've decided not to print my custom cards for sale to other collectors, and perhaps will not even print one for my own archives, it makes it much easier to produce alternative versions of many series.
This is especially true of Rails & Sails card fronts of the "Sails" subset, because the format is just a borderless picture with some superimposed type.
There is no shortage of material in print and on the internet concerning the Titanic and her fate. A few things you may not have known, however, that piqued my interest are . . .
- at 883' long, 94' abeam and 175' tall, displacing 52,310 tons fully laden, the ship was the largest man-made movable object on earth.
- the most expensive First Class ticket on the Northampton to New York route was $4,350. That's about $105,000 in today's dollars. It's not too much of a stretch to assume that accommodation was booked by John Jacob Astor, one of the world's richest men at time time, who went down with the ship.
- despite the "women and children first" law of the sea, three dogs, a Pekinese and two Pomeranians, made it into the lifeboats and survived. There was a dozen dogs confirmed to have been on board.
- lastly, I am among the minority in this country that has never seen a minute of the 1987 James Cameron movie Titanic.