Share your favorites on Show & Tell


In Postcards > Boat and Ship Postcards > Show & Tell.
Boat and Ship Postcards16 of 24A 1975 Post Card General Sale Service.AMERICAN FLEET ANCHORING IN SYDNEY HARBOUR 1908
Love it
Like it

aghcollectaghcollect loves this.
VintagefranVintagefran loves this.
NicoleJerelenNicoleJerelen loves this.
musikchoomusikchoo loves this.
BudekBudek loves this.
toracattoracat loves this.
rniedermanrniederman loves this.
Moonstonelover21Moonstonelover21 loves this.
kerry10456kerry10456 loves this.
peteypetey loves this.
walksoftlywalksoftly loves this.
AmberRoseAmberRose loves this.
manddmoirmanddmoir loves this.
SEAN68SEAN68 loves this.
gargoylecollectorgargoylecollector loves this.
JustanoviceJustanovice loves this.
mikelv85mikelv85 loves this.
ozmartyozmarty loves this.
nldionnenldionne loves this.
blunderbuss2blunderbuss2 loves this.
inkyinky loves this.
See 19 more
Add to collection

Please create an account, or Log in here

If you don't have an account, create one here.

Create a Show & TellReport as inappropriate

Posted 4 years ago


(675 items)

On the back of the card is a mundane message to Maude Lankester dated 13/4/17 about Marie's movements in and around Sydney and "having a glorious time". Sydney Harbour and warships on the reverse: a photo postcard inscribed "Man O’ War Stairs Sydney". The Great War had still almost eighteen months to run.


This is an interesting card to me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the scene on the front of the card is not from 1917. It is much earlier. I have seen another version of the same scene dated 1911. A framed hand-tinted version of the card is in the National Museum of Australia. The scene has resonance.

The ships in the photo are said to be “HMS Powerful & HMS Encounter and several other Australian Station warships in the distance.” These ships were important in Australian naval history and both in time became important parts of the fledgling Australian Navy Fleet. But others claim that the scene is of the Powerful and ships from the Great White Fleet of 1908.

A generic naval scene perhaps?
In 1917 used as a propaganda card?

The place too is interesting. The view is taken from the Royal Botanic Gardens and was originally the site of Sydney's oldest sandstone quarry that provided the building materials for some of Sydney's early stone buildings around the turn of the 19th century.

The Man O'War Steps were the embarking and disembarking point for the Navy.

Today the area is the site of the wharf and promenade leading to the Sydney Opera House!


"From these Steps 2215 officers and sailors of the RAN left to serve their country in the Great War 1914-18, and the Second World War 1939-45, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam, never to return to enjoy the fruits of their labours in their native land."

Title: "Man O’ War Stairs Sydney"
Photographer: unknown
Publisher: Graphic postcard C.B. & Co Ltd
Year: c1908 - 1917
Size: 14.1cm x 9cm (5½" x 3½")
Description: sepia card with view "Man O’ War Stairs Sydney" used for a message.
"Man O’ War Stairs Sydney" is printed at the bottom left hand side over the image in small white text.

Content created
Dated 13/4/17
The handwritten text is dated 13/4/17 & signed Marie.
“Dear Maude Mrs Porter met us & we delivered the box alright. She is over at Manly all this week & we are going up to Croydon to see her after she goes home. Hope you are all well. We are having a glorious time - Love from Marie.

Recipient of letter
Miss Maude Lankester
Card was used as a message and posted in an envelope (?).

Materials: Paper, Ink.
Width: 134mm
Height: 33mm

Associated place

The Man O’ War Stairs are the only known remains of harbour works from the Macquarie era still in existence in Sydney Harbour. They are in what appears to be their original configuration, and still in daily use until recently closed for renovations. They recall a bygone era when Navy ships anchored in Farm Cove, and the soldiers came ashore to Fort Macquarie, Sydney's main military base at this point.

The Tarpeian Way is the pathway that runs along the northern edge of the steep cliff known as the Tarpeian Wall, at the edge of the Botanic Gardens. When the rock at Bennelong Point was cut away to build the road that now leads to the Opera House, the wall and the path were named after the Tarpeian Rock which overlooks the Roman Forum.

When the Opera House was built, the Man O'War Steps were cleared of all structures and the present day pontoons were added to the original stonework. Restored in 1973, the complex is now a major embarkation point for harbour cruises.


  1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks inky, czechman and mustangT too!
  2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Have you been able to determine if this is maybe a pic of the "White Fleet" or not?
  3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Hi Phil and thanks for that comment. This was a popular card and was reprinted over the years in different formats. Thanks to you too blunderbuss! I'm just putting some of the data together. I get the feeling that this card might be later than the Great White Fleet. The big boat is probably the HMS Powerful. She accompanied the US fleet into Sydney Harbour in 1908 as some kind of escort. At the time Powerful was flagship of the Royal Navy squadron on the Australian Station.
    The identity of the other ship is pertinent I think. If it is HMS Encounter then it is not from 1908, I think. My problem is identifying the second ship. If it is a US ship then it might well be from the Great White Fleet's circumnavigation.
    For this reason this card is collected and sometimes framed as a Great White Fleet collectible. I have kept it apart from my other Great White Fleet cards because I am still not sure. This is my favourite of the three posted so far:

    I have another very special one that I am keeping for a special occasion!
  4. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks nldionne!
  5. Ted_Straub Ted_Straub, 4 years ago
    Very nice card, with really informative and thought provoking text...thanks for posting!
  6. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks TedS, sean68, gargoyleC, miederman, mikelV, justanovice and Marty too
  7. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks to the Moirs!
  8. SEAN68 SEAN68, 4 years ago
    your very welcome KevinG:)
  9. AmberRose AmberRose, 4 years ago
    Hi V found you something today...a Fornasetti piece. Naval Medals on it. I'll try and get it posted so you may salivate until I get both it and myself together and to the post office. May take a while.
    As to this...and this may sound silly...if the same photo is at the National Gallery wouldn't they be able to help with ship ID? Might have misread...
  10. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Hi Amber. Oops National Museum of Australia!

  11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Thanks Amber made the change!
    Hasten slowly!
  12. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    The card in the NMA is from the collection of one of Australia's top dealers of "printed materials". When I saw his name and the lack of attribution I thought I was on a lose/lose hunt!
  13. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks walksoftly
  14. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks petey!
  15. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks musikchoo!
  16. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks kerry10456!
  17. toracat toracat, 4 years ago
    Sydney must have been some sight to see! "Drunken sailors and soldiers", having a swell time! Being a former drunken soldier, on many occasions, and at age 18! I would have loved to been there! Great post cards and story!!
  18. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks Don! It was a real event at the time!
  19. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks Tonino too!
  20. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks musikChoo!
  21. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks NICOLEJERELEN!
  22. Vintagefran Vintagefran, 4 years ago
    Hi Vetraio, I've just noticed your in Australia!
    Somewhere i would love to day.
    I love this postcard, the old ships. Also Love your research & info, fascinating stuff.
  23. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
  24. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks AGHCOLLECT 'n NUTSABOTAS too!

Want to post a comment?

Create an account or login in order to post a comment.