Steam Tugs, Columbus and Alert. Vessels of All Classes Towed to and from Sea and about the Harbor. Towing to and from Schuylkill and All Other Descriptions Promptly Attended To. S. Flanagan, Number 78 South Delaware Avenue


This circa 1855 colored print is an advertisement for the services provided in the harbor of Philadelphia by the steam tugs Columbus and Alert, operated by the firm of S. Flanagan. The Columbus is depicted in the foreground, breaking the ice with a square-rigged ship in tow. The foggy view includes the helmsman in the wheelhouse of the Columbus, and a man swinging open a door on the port side of the cabin. The steam tug Alert is visible in the left background, along with the horizon of Philadelphia. The lower left- and right-hand corners of the print offer information about the size and capabilities of the tugs, including their length, breadth, depth, tonnage, engine high pressure, diameter of (engine) cylinder, stroke of piston, and horsepower. The scene is likely on the Schuylkill River. This print is by the firm of Rease & Schell, a partnership formed in the 1850s by William H. Rease and Francis H. Schell. Born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, Rease was a prominent mid-19th century Philadelphia trade card lithographer. He was known to highlight details of human interest in his advertisements. Schell was born in Philadelphia in 1834 and is best known for his work during the Civil War as an illustrator for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Printed by T. Sinclair, Philadelphia


Title in Original Language

Steam tugs, Columbus and Alert. Vessels of all classes towed to and from sea and about the harbor; towing to and from Schuylkill and all other descriptions promptly attended to. S. Flanagan No. 78 South Delaware Avenue.

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph, tinted with two stones ; 32 x 45 centimeters


  • Digital catalog number: POS 725

Last updated: August 19, 2015