Charts & Graphs

Bills of Lading

What’s onboard?

Mayflower, bound for London out of Trondheim, Norway, in 1609

Specifications: 100-foot-long, square-rigged sailing ship designed for cargo (Pilgrims saved money on rental in 1620 and experienced bumpy ride, lacking proper ballast).

Bill of lading:*

  • 3,000 planks Norwegian wood
  • 140 barrels tar
  • 42 barrels herring
  • ———

    * Some provisions and wood thrown overboard to lighten load

Aurungzebe and Chambers, bound for Amoy, China, out of London in 1702

Specifications: East India Company frigates of 425 and 350 tons, respectively

Bill of lading:

  • 30,111 yards broadcloth and rashes
  • Other woolen cloths
  • 115 tons lead
  • Sundry commodities
  • 53,895 rials of eight
  • 71,500 ducatoons
  • 12,000 French crowns
  • 41 bars silver
  • (Returned with raw silk, copper, and gold)

Zong, bound for Black River, Jamaica, out of Accra, Gold Coast, in 1781

Specifications: Dutch-built square-stern slave ship captured by the English

Manifest: 19-person crew, 1 passenger

Bill of lading:

  • Some 440 slaves valued at £30 sterling per head*
  • Provisions (15,000 gallons of water)
  • ———

    * Only around 200 slaves arrived in Jamaica; at least 132 sick slaves were thrown overboard by crew to claim insurance money

Lusitania, bound for Liverpool out of New York City in 1915

Specifications: British ocean liner noted for speed and luxury

Manifest: 1,959 passengers and crew, plus 3 German prisoners

Bill of lading:*

  • 1,248 cases artillery shells
  • 4,200 cases rifle cartridges
  • 189 packages military goods
  • 20 packages sewing machines and parts
  • 10 packages dental goods
  • ———

    * Cargo and 1,198 people lost (among them 128 U.S. citizens) when a German U-boat torpedoed the ship; incident contributed to U.S. entry into World War I

USS Sylvania, bound for Norfolk, Virginia, out of Naples in 1976

Specifications: U.S. Navy combat-stores ship (made to supply provisions, among them fresh and frozen foods, to warships out at sea)

Bill of lading:

  • 55 ancient Egyptian items for the exhibit
  • The Treasures of Tutankhamen*
  • Refrigerated boxes of hamburger patties
  • Frozen and dry provisions for combat ships
  • Helicopter fuel
  • ———

    * Transported in secret on boat by request of Gamal Mokhtar, chairman of Egyptian the Antiquities Organization, fearing aerial hijacking or plane crash

Emma Maersk, bound for Lianjiao, China, out of UK in 2007

Specifications: Container ship with a 15,550 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) capacity, among the largest container ships ever built

Manifest: 13 crew members

Bill of lading:

  • 170,000 metric tons of trash (around 375 million pounds)