News from 1903: Coptic celebrates Christmas twice

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Mark Baber

The San Francisco Call, 5 January 1904
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,

Liner Brings From the Orient One of the Most Cargoes Ever Brought Across the
Pacific---It Includes Chinese Gold Worth $625,000 and Raw Silk Valued

Christmas occurred twice and was twice celebrated on the homeward voyage of
the steamship Coptic, which arrived from the Orient on Sunday too late to
pass quarantine. The liner crossed the 180th meridian December 25, and in
order to be up to date with the Occidental calendar that date had to serve
for two days, both registered in the Coptic's log as December 25, Christmas

Captain Beadnell always takes good care of his passengers, and as a
repeating Santa Claus proved a success. He was ably assisted by Purser A. E.
Rennie and Surgeon R. B. Ironet, and the success of the celebration may best
be judged by the uncertainty among some of the passengers as to whether they
really celebrated two Christmases or whether the celebration just seemed

The Coptic, which docked early at the Pacific Mail wharf, brought a cargo
which once upon a time would have made the liner popular in pirate circles.
Of treasure she brought Chinese gold coin valued at $625,000. She also
brought one of the richest cargoes of raw silk ever brought across the
Pacific. It consisted of 1500 bales and is worth $1,200,000.

On account of the holidays and the popular desire for the domestic fireside
at Christmas few passengers traveled on the Coptic. Among them were three
commissioners from the Philippines to the St. Louis Exposition--- Dr. G.
d'E. Browne, Charles P. Fenner and Charles L.Hall. Lieutenant H. V. Simpson
of the British navy was also a passenger.

Captain Armstrong, who was appointed commander of the Coptic to succeed
Captain Rinder, arrived from England Saturday night and to-day will take
charge of the liner. Armstrong was formerly chief officer of the Belgic and
has many friends in this city. He was lately in command of the White Star
line's Persic, running between Liverpool and Sydney. Captain Beadnell will
resume his position of chief officer. This is the second trip that Beadnell
has made in command. He has proved his fitness for the accompanying
responsibilities and probably before long will have more constant use for
the gold-vizored [sic] cap that only captains may wear.

The passengers included the following named: From Hongkong- Dr. G. d'E.
Browne, W. V. Curtis, Charles P. Fenner, Charles L. Hall, Mrs. J. M Turner
and child.

Yokohama- W. C. Grieve, W. M. Kerr, Rev. C. W. Kennedy, Bertheld Levy,
Liuetenant [sic] H. V. Simpson, R. N.

Honolulu - J. H. Fanton, Mrs. J. H. Fanton, Mrs. H. B. Wilson, Miss R.
Wilson, Mrs. T. Washington, infant and maid.

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