Classification Certificate (1863)

American Maritime Documents 1776-1860

Stein, Douglas L. 1992

Printed document on paper, approximately 8″ x 14″. “American Lloyds Register Of Shipping” is printed across the top, and “American Lloyd’s” is found within a decorative engraving along the left-hand margin. An engraved eagle also appears, as do American Lloyd’s stamps. The Certificate usually displays the signature of the organization’s secretary and the port’s surveyor.

This Certificate was issued to the shipowner by Lloyd’s after a vessel had been surveyed, and was a primary document when the vessel was to be insured. After its establishment in 1857, American Lloyds provided various requirements and levels of classification. Generally speaking, the better a ship’s construction and the better the materials used in it, the higher classification rating it would receive. An Al rating was first class, A1-1/2 second class, A2 third class, A2-1/2 fourth class, and A3 was fifth class. These classes translated into what kind of cargo could be carried. Consequently, first and second class vessels could obtain insurance to transport perishable cargoes on long voyages, while the succeedingly lower classifications indicated less well built, and often older, vessels confined to carrying more durable cargo along shorter distances. Lloyd’s would carry the vessel’s classification in their Register, and indicated that all vessels must be resurveyed “at least once every two years” in order to maintain or revise their classification. (See also Survey Certificate described under Marine Insurance).

This Classification Certificate was obtained at the Port of New York by the ship Germania. The A1-1/2, rating indicates that the vessel is “fit to carry dry and perishable goods on long voyages. ” Document was issued by the Port’s surveyor.