American South African Line Archival Collection

The American South African Line , like other world-wide trade routes established by the United States Shipping Board , provided a service that was needed by American exporters and importers and gave the United States a position in world Trade.

American-South African Line.—By resolution dated May 21, 1926, the board recommended to the Postmaster General that a contract for the transportation of mail be made by him with the American-South African Line, under the provisions of section 24 of the merchant marine act, 1920, for the transportation of mails by the liner service maintained by that company between the port of New York and ports in the Cape Town-Beira range of British and Portuguese South and East Africa, the compensation to be $5,000 for each outgoing voyage, with 12 voyages per annum at intervals of approximately four weeks.

The trade route involved is highly competitive, the line having as rivals several long-established British lines, as a result of which the American-South African Line has been operated at a substantial annual deficit and having the disadvantage that it is the only service operated by it, whereas the competing lines are chiefly owned by wealthy British companies also operating other routes from which revenues are drawn which assist them to meet competing conditions on the route here involved.

Pursuant to the recommendation of the board, the Postmaster General entered into a contract, dated June 7, 1926, with the American-South African bine (Inc.), substantially in conformity with the certification of the board. (Tenth Annual Report of the United States Shipping Board, 1922 p. 7)

On December 22 , 1925 , American South African Line was sold to the Farrell group. The name was changed in April 1948 , from the American South African Lines to Farrell Lines.

Digitized Ephemera


Front Cover of a Vintage Farewell Dinner Menu from Wednesday, 1 September 1937 on board the MS City of New York of the American South-African Line


1937-09-01 MS City of New York Farewell Dinner Menu

Vintage Farewell Dinner Menu from Wednesday, 1 September 1937 on board the MS City of New York of the American South-African Line featured Filet Seventy Fours, Andaluse - Parisienne Potatoes, Frogs Legs Princesse, and Plum Pudding, Hard and Fruit Sauce for dessert.


1944 Advertisement from the American South African Line.

1944 Advertisement from the American South African Line. GGA Image ID # 1da9e5dc5b


American South African Line, Incorporated - 1944 Advertisement

Do your post-war plans call for trade and travel in South Africa and East Africa? Are you interested in the varied products of that area, for which there is a vast market in the United States?

Our knowledge of South Africa and East Africa; of the import requirements; of the products for export — a knowledge gained through long experience in that trade, is at your disposal.

WHEN peace comes, permitting the resumption of international commercial trade, we shall be ready with a fine, new fleet of modern ships, operating on a schedule of regular and frequent sail- ings. These fast ships will give speed in transit for passengers, cargo and mail.

Improved facilities will be available to meet your shipping requirements * * * special cargo-handling gear, built-in lockers for the stowage of valuable cargo, special tanks for the carriage of liquid cargo, cargo-hold ventilation and refrigerated space for perishable cargo.

Your shipping problems may be entrusted safely to us.


Passenger Service

The policy of the United States Shipping Board, for furthering the American Merchant Marine, contampiated the disposal of Government-owned vessels to private operators and, in line with this policy, in 1925, The Unite; States Shipping Board offered for sale the ships and the American South African Line service to South and East Africa.

The successful bidder for the South African route was Mr. James A. Farrell, Jr.,who in 1925 formed a private owned company which was incorporated as America South African Line, Inc. The company purchased from the United States Shipping Board five ships and the right to operate them on the certified route between United States Atlantic ports and ports in South and East Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean.

The American South African Line, Inc,, continued the United States Shipping Board membership in the U.S.A South African Conference and. as a matter of fact, retained its membership in that Conference ever since. The other members of the Conference were the British-flag line operators : Union-Castle Line, Ellerman & Bucknall Line, Prince Line, Clan Line and Houston Line. The German-owned Hansa Line, which had operated as a Conference member prior to the war, did not renew its service from the United States to South Africa after World War I.

Realizing the possibilities of a direct passenger services between the United States and South Africa, the American South Africa Line, Inc., in 1929. built its first passenger ship, City of New York. This fine ship, with excellent accommodations for about sixty passengers, became so well known and popular on both continents that its loss through enemy action in 1942, was keenly felt by many Americans and South Africans.


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