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Dollar Steamship Line History and Ephemera

The Dollar Steamship Company (commonly known as "Dollar Line") was established on August 12, 1900. In 1902, Captain Robert Dollar sailed to Asia for the first time on a Pacific Mail ship, SS China, to prospect potential lumber markets on the other side of the Pacific. He began to acquire many ships, and started his trans-Pacific shipping with a chartered voyage to Yokohama, Japan, and the Philippines, marking his entry into international shipping.

During World War I, Robert Dollar ordered the construction of $30 million worth of ships in China, and in 1923 bought seven "502 President Type" liners from the US Shipping Board, pioneering his round-the-world service, marked by the departure of SS President Harrison on January 5, 1924. These were all named after US presidents, a tradition that Dollar Shipping continued until its end.

In 1925, the Dollar Line acquired the assets of Pacific Mail Line, and in 1922 the Dollar Line also acquired the Admiral Oriental Line and renamed it the American Mail Line, making Dollar one of the most profitable shipping companies in the world.

Dollar Line continued expanding its business in the late 1920s, buying five more "535 President Type" ships in 1926. In that year, Dollar Line carried over 45,000 passengers and had gross revenue of $6 million. Dollar encouraged others to invest in Asia with his booklet, "Have You Investigated the Oriental Market for Your Product?", helping to open up Asia to 20th-century industry. The Merchant Marine Act of 1928 (also known as the Jones–White act) also helped Dollar Line, allowing it to sign a lucrative new mail contract and requiring it to build new ships to meet demand.

On May 16, 1932, Robert Dollar died at the age of 88 and was succeeded by his son, Robert Stanley Dollar. Following Robert senior's death, the company began a steady decline. In 1938. American Mail Line became American President Lines.

Dollar Steamship Line Ephemera

Front Brochure Cover, Dollar Steamship Line President Liners from 1925.

1925 Brochure - Dollar Steamship Line - The President Liners Brochure

Rare 1925 Brochure from The Dollar Steamship Line on their President Liners. Many photographs document their distinctively higher standard of luxury, comfort, and convenience -- a measure designed to meet the requirements of ocean voyagers.

Front Cover of a Cabin Class Passenger List from the SS President Van Buren of the Dollar Steamship Line, Departing 30 September 1926 from New York to Shanghai

1926-09-30 SS President Van Buren Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Cabin Class
  • Date of Departure: 30 September 1926
  • Route: New York to Marseilles via Havana, Cristobal, Balbao, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manilla, Singapore, Penang, Colombo, Port Said and Alexandria
  • Commander: Captain M. Ridley
Front Side of a Vintage Welcome Dinner Postcard Menu from 9 October 1926

1926-10-09 SS President Harrison Welcome Dinner Postcard Menu

Vintage Welcome Dinner Postcard Menu from 9 October 1926 on board the SS President Harrison of the Dollar Steamship Line featured Breast of Guinea Chicken en Cocotte with Noodles Polonaise, Prime Ribs of Beef, au Jus, and Bavarois Religeuse for Dessert.

Front Cover - 1934-09-18 Passenger Manifest - SS President Jackson

1934-09-18 SS President Jackson Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Not Stated
  • Date of Departure: 18 September 1934
  • Route: Kobe to Seattle via Yokohama
  • Commander: Captain M. M. Jensen, U.S.N.R
Front Cover - 1934-09-18 Passenger Manifest - SS President Jackson

1934-09-22 SS President Jackson Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: Not Stated
  • Date of Departure: 18 September 1934
  • Route: Yokohama to Seattle via Victoria
  • Commander: Captain M. M. Jensen, U.S.N.R


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The Folks Behind the GG Archives

The GG Archives is the work and passion of two people, Paul Gjenvick, a professional archivist, and Evelyne Gjenvick, a curator. Paul earned a Masters of Archival Studies - a terminal degree from Clayton State University in Georgia, where he studied under renowned archivist Richard Pearce-Moses. Our research into the RMS Laconia and SS Bergensfjord, the ships that brought two members of the Gjønvik family from Norway to the United States in the early 20th century, has helped us design our site for other genealogists. The extent of original materials at the GG Archives can be very beneficial when researching your family's migration from Europe.