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HISTORY - One of the earliest steam ship companies in the world ÖSTERREICHISCHER LLOYD was founded in 1833 - II 1855-1914

One of the "early bird" shipping companies start sailing with steam powered vessels, was 1833 LLOYD AUSTRIACO of Austria-Hungary.
With the industrial and engineering progress, LLOYD AUSTRIACO begann with paddle wheel steamships and changed to screw driven vessels, when this technology was still young and innovative. Let´s not forgett, Josef Ressel, an Austrian state serviceman, was the first to test a screw as propulsion for ships.
First convoy passing the SUEZ CANAL in 1869, among this convoy had been ships of LLOYD AUSTRIACO, as well the empirial yacht of Kaiser Franz Joseph - own collection
And via its board member Pasquale Revoltella LLOYD AUSTRIACO became a shareholder of the SUEZ CANAL, one of the back bones for the British Empire ... 
Honi soit qui mal y pense [ɔni swa ki mal i pɑ̃s]
by Earl of Cruise
Steamer PANDORA - Source: Civicp Museo del Mare Trieste
As early as 1857, the Semmering was no longer an obstacle for the railroad, the first train of Südbahn,  the southern railway, from Vienna arrived in Trieste. Constructing this railway passage through the Alps can be compared to the railway construction across the plains and Rocky Mountains in USA, or the construction of railways in Switzerland. It was pushing the railway industry in Austria-Hungary a massiv step forward. This new transport link and the existence of a free-trade tariff / Freihafen (the only one in the Adriatic) due to the empirial privilege of 1719 further supported the economy of Trieste and its hinterland. Between 1837 and 1914, 37.3 million tonnes of goods were handled by 220 steamers and 21.5 million passengers were transported. The LLOYD AUSTRIACO was the largest shipping company in the Mediterranean and the city of Trieste - the fifth largest port in continental europe- after Hamburg, Rotterdam, Marseille and Genoa.
The port of Trieste mid 19th century - Source: Wikipedia
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LLOYD AUSTRIACO advertising of 1850 - Source: Civicp Museo del Mare Trieste
All depicted advertising and promotion material is produced by the §rd Section, the publishing branch of LLOYD AUSTRIACO
After the Austro-Hungarian settlement in 1867, following the revolution of 1848-49, the company had to be renamed LLOYD AUSTRO-UNGARICO or ÖSTERREICHISCH-UNGARN LLOYD. Again and again the highly subsidized LLOYD had to carry out troop, refugee and emigrant transports, such as during the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 (Encyclopædia Britannica article) when 136,000 emigrants were transported from the European to the Asian Turkey on behalf of the Ottoman government and the k. u. k. Army of 72,000 men, including 8,000 horses, and 90,000 tons of war material from Trieste to Dalmatia. As early as 1882, the frigate LAUDON and the steamers MARS, CERES, and DIANA had carried Austro-Hungarian citizens back from Alexandria in Egypt, where bloody clashes had taken place.
Map of Austria-Hungary in 1911 - courtsey Georg Westermann Verlag, History Atlass, own collection
In 1869 ÖSTERREICHISCHER LLOYD became shareholder of COMPAGNIE UNIVERSELLE du CANAL MARITIME de SUEZ (Suez Canal Company), in which founder Baron Pasquale Revoltella was vice president. Due to the opening of the Suez Canal, LLOYD AUSTRIACO was able to offer competitive connections to the Asian region for the first time, up to the opening of the canal Africa had to be surrounded by the Cape of Good Hope. A trip from Trieste to Alexandria now lasted only three, to Port Said by Eillinie four days. The direct competitors of LLOYD AUSTRIACO from Germany (e.g. NORDDEUTSCHER LLOYD), Holland and England could take numerous passengers and freight. The now daily offered train connections from the port of Vlissingen in the Netherlands via Germany to Trieste were much faster than a trip by ship from a British, Dutch or German port across the Bay of Biscay passing the Strait of Gibraltar and sailing the entire Mediterranean to the SUEZ CANAL. On the lines to Egypt, India, and East Asia, the LLOYD AUSTRIACO had therefore always on board a large proportion of Englishmen who traveled across the Channel to Vlissingen and then by train to Trieste.
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Steamer MEDUSA of LLOYD AUSTRIACO - Source: Civicp Museo del Mare Trieste
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Steamer IMPERATOR of LLOYD AUSTRIACO - Source: Civicp Museo del Mare Trieste
The LLOYD AUSTRIACO steamers PLUTO, VULCAN and AMERIKA, including the empirial yacht of Kaiser Franz Joseph were within the first convoy that crossed the canal, just in line with the empirial yacht of France with l´imeratrice Eugénie onboard and the yacht of Khedive Muhammad Said Pascha  when the opening of the canal, which became very important for the world's shipping, took place. From 1880 onwards destinations to Port Said (since 1869), Bombay (since 1870), Colombo, Singapur and Hongkong (since 1880), Shanghai (since 1881), Nagoya and Yokohama (since 1892) could be offered.
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SUEZ CANAL opening - Source: school history book, copy, own collection

Benefiting from state subsidies and rapid connections from Trieste to the Eastern Mediterranean and via the SUEZ CANAL to Asia, the LLOYD AUSTRIACO developed into one of the largest shipping companies in the world.

Construction began in April 1859, and at first digging was done by hand with picks and shovels wielded by forced laborers. Later, European workers with dredgers and steam shovels arrived. Labor disputes and a cholera epidemic slowed construction, and the Suez Canal was not completed until 1869–four years behind schedule. On November 17, 1869, the Suez Canal was opened to navigation. Ferdinand de Lesseps would later attempt, unsuccessfully, to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama.
Painting of the Suez Canal by Albert Reiger - Source: Lexikon der Kunststile, dtv

When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom, and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. Consequently, fewer than 500 ships navigated it in its first full year of operation. Major improvements began in 1876, however, and the canal soon grew into the one of the world’s most heavily traveled shipping lanes. In 1875, Great Britain became the largest shareholder in the Suez Canal Company when it bought up the stock of the new Ottoman governor of Egypt. Seven years later, in 1882, Britain invaded Egypt, beginning a long occupation of the country. The Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 made Egypt virtually independent, but Britain reserved rights for the protection of the canal.
Source: Worldpress
The former LLOYD Palace (detail) in 2007 - Source: Wikipedia
With his own pavilion, the LLOYD participated in the Viennese world exhibition in 1873.
Pavillon of ÖSTERREICHISCHEN LLOYD during the World Economic Fair  /  Wiener Weltausstellung 1873 - Source: Wikipedia

Just a week after the opening the Vienna Stock Exchange crash took place, May 9th, 1873. It followed an economic Laissez-faire policy of the government of Austria-Hungary. An attempt to regain economic strength after two devasting war losses in 1857 and 1866.

The following six years had been more a stagnation, than a despression and lasted in the USA four years, in continantal European econimies up to six years, but in Great Britain till 1895 and was a depression, as in the aftermath of the previous war spendings turned to civial needs which "forced a cleaning of the markets"
In 1879, the company center, which was originally in the Palazzo de Cassis on Piazza della Borsa, Trieste, moved from Tergesto to the new LLOYD palace on Piazza Grande. The architect was Heinrich von Ferstel, who had already planned the University  and the Votivkirche  in Vienna. At this time, for instance, from 1878 to 1884, the Austro-Hungarian LLOYD was in the process of the international boom in the shipping business. However, the company took regarded this this positive economic environment was as a permanent state.
And with the 50th anniversary of the LLOYD AUSTRIACO started the economical problems of the company.
In 1886, the steamship company of the LLOYD, founded in 1836, celebrated its 50th anniversary and, as a prelude to the festivities, launched the IMPERATOR, which was designed for the East Asia service. She had 4,140 GT, 117 meter length, 13 meter width, 7,3 meters draught, 15 kts and 4,500 hp. These charactaristics made IMPERATOR the largest and most magnificent ship in the company, which in 1886 consisted of 86 steamboats.
However, the company had gradually slumped into the loss zone, which could not be abandoned even with the sister ship of the IMPERATOR, IMPERATRIX of similar dimensions, 4,194 GT, 118,9 meter length, 13,7 meter width, 7,5 meter draught and 15 kts, In 1890 the deficit reached an amount of over 600,000 Florin (Österreichischer Gulden). Too high transport costs would even make shipping companies from Hamburg and Bremen for the Mediterranean shipping market such a big competition that a return to the profit zone was highly unlikely. When Austria-Hungary increased subsidies, Hungary left the company. From 1891 onwards the company name was therefore again Österreichischen LLOYD / LLOYD AUSTRIACO. The Hungarian government shifted now its financial contribution from LLOYD to the Hungarian shipping company ADRIA, which has already worked profitably. Fiume, the port and seat of the Hungarian shipping companies, became an even stronger competitor for Trieste and LLOYD.
In the 1890s up to 1914 restructuring and reorganization of the LLOYD AUSTRIACO had to be made, this was leading to a  strike of the LLOYD employees in 1902.

Bond Translucent / Anleiheschein of 1895 for 1000 Gulden (253 mm × 377 mm) - own collection
After the departure of Hungary from the company, the restructuring of the company was initiated in the 1890s, which meant a reform and reorganization. Old ships, which are no longer contemporary to regular services, were used, for example, only for out-of-the-ordinary transport journeys. The company experienced once again a final phase of the boom, which once again rose sharply from about 1906 until the outbreak of war. Ore transports were made from Spain for the blast furnaces in Servola (a district of Trieste), rice was carried from Burma to the rice refining factories in Trieste, wood to Egypt and even sugar into the Levant and from there to India and the Red Sea. In order to transfer fresh capital to the company, the shareholders' meeting of May 15, 1895, with the approval of the k.u. k. government, a bond was placed. The issuance of a senior debt of 4,200,000 Guillder, which was to be repaid by the "amortization plan" from 1906 to 1955. The entire assets of the LLOYD served as security for the owners.
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LLOYD AUSTRIACO steamer GABLONZ - own collection, copy from a postcard
In 1895, another shipping company was founded in Trieste, which soon rose to a similar size as the LLOYD, AUSTRO-AMERICANA. Although the company's declared main interest was trade with North and South America anyway, the areas of activity between LLOYD and AUSTRO-AMERICANA were delimited for safety in order to avoid unnecessary competition from a governmental point of view. AUSTRO-AMERICANA therefore undertook no efforts to drive other destinations than North and South America. Both companies were supported by the state: LLOYD received in 1913 10 million Kronen for the entire line operation, the AUSTRO-AMERICANA only 1.5 million Kronen for single lines to South America.
Lloyd Austriaco
LLOYD AUSTRIACO steamer MARIENBAD - own collection, copy from a postcard
In 1897, African ports were first steered at their own risk. The success was, however, low, and with the effects of the Second Boer War these sailings were stopped.
In 1902, LLOYD AUSTRIACO experienced the first and at the same time the most difficult of workers' revolt.
At first, only the ship's heaters were striking, thousands of the Triestine workers joined in later. A total of 10,000 workers were on strike, when, on February 14, 1902, bloody clashes occurred with orderly forces. The result was 14 dead and over 50 injured. The demands for the abolition of the two-hour corvé service (sea service after the guard), reduction of working hours in port by 2.5 hours to 8 hours, and the abolition of the requirement that half of the crew must remain on board of all ships in the port , Were not met as a whole, but the strikers were given partial rights in arbitration proceedings.
Kitchen / Bordküche of steamer AFRIKA - Source: Wikipedia
During the restructuring of LLOYD AUSTRIACO the company headquarter was relocated and the the LLOYD shipyard was outsourced.
On the basis of the new treaty between LLOYD AUSTRIACO and the k.u.k. Government of  May 12th, 1906, which was to be valid for further 15 years, the General Meeting of shareholders and the Board of Directors was transferred to Vienna with effect from 1 January 1907, but the registered office of the company remained in Trieste. During this time the company also introduced the so-called Vergnügungsfahrten“ / "pleasure journeys". After the first successful journeys with the BOHEMIA (landing 1896), the THALIA, which had already been built as a passenger and cargo ship in 1886, was rebuilt. From 1907 onwards it was the first "white ship" for exclusively "pleasure journeys" of the LLOYD in the Mediterranean or the North Sea.
Lloyd Austriaco
THALIA, Austria-Hungary´s first and last luxury cruise vessel. After the tremendous success of HAPAG´s start with the cruise business, LLOYD AUSTRIACO coppied rather successful the idea and tailored for the Austria-Hungary market its own cruise business - Source: Wikipedia
Also in 1907, the LLOYD contract with the Austrian government, which had just expired, was extended, this increased the state's mileage due to the higher speed standards and the elimination of the Dalmatian lines.
Below: LLOYD AUSTRIACO advertisments from the Belle Epoque - own collection, copy from Frenweh auf Schiffsplakaten, Helmut Cauer
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Lloyd Austriaco
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In 1909, the LLOYD shipyard was outsourced to its own company for financial and organizational reasons, in which ÖSTERREICHISCHE LLOYD and the company Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino each held 50 per cent. Only the repair and dry docks remained with the LLOYD. As ships could be built for other companies as well, the outsourcing resulted in a better utilization of the shipyard and thus financial relief.
In 1909, the LLOYD shipyard was outsourced to its own company for financial and organizational reasons, in which ÖSTERREICHISCHER LLOYD and the company STABILMENTO TECNICO TRIESTINO each held 50 per cent. Only the repair and dry docks remained with the LLOYD AUSTRIACO. As ships could be built for other companies as well, the outsourcing resulted in a better utilization of the shipyard and thus financial relief for the strained company.
HELOUAN, drawing by HarryHeusser (used postcard of 1913) - Source: Wikipedia
 HELOUAN - own collection, copy from a postcard

The company celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1911 with the commissioning of the largest ships so far, the express liners WIEN and HELOUAN, each with 134,9 meter length, 16,2 meter width, 6,91 meter draught, 7,367 GT, 3,199 NRT, 10,000 hp, 18 kts. The liners served on the Trieste-Alexandria route. On this and other lines LLOYD AUSTRIACO was able to hold its own against the international competition because, according to tradition, the kitchen was excellent, the officers and the staff worked properly and the equipment was comfortable. According to a speech, the ships should also have been so punctual that "the Orientals have directed their Chronometer and the Muezzin his prayer".
WIEN in her original LLOYD AUSTRIACO colours - Source: Wikipedia
WIEN in the colours of LLOYD TRIESTINO - own collection, copy from a promotion postcard
The company also honored the anniversary with an almost 150-page inscription. It contained a company history, extensive statistical material for the development of LLOYD AUSTRIACO and especially its fleet. The distinctive personalities of the LLOYD, such as Ritter Karl Ludwig von Bruck or Elio Freiherr von Morpurgo, were portrayed. For some ships, longitudinal cutaways, deck plans (for example, ARCIDUCO LUDOVICO, IMPERATOR) as well as photographs and Harry Heusser's painted pictures (e.g. BARON GAUTSCH, THALIA) were added.
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BARON GAUTSCH - own collection, copy from a postcard

The biggest ships of LLOYD AUSTRIACO in 1914

Ship´s name
built in
Launch date
BRT (in t)

3. Mai 1912

23. Januar 1913

4. Mai 1901

24. Juli 1912

4. März 1911

9. Mai 1914

14. Oktober 1901

Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand
1. April 1899

14. März 1900

22. September 1906
Lloyd Austriaco
75th anniversary of LLOYD AUSTRIACO / ÖSTERREICHISCHER LLOYD - Source: Civicp Museo del Mare Trieste
A wonderful sample for the Austrian expression of Art Nouveau, Wiener Session
In 1912 the last line expansion of LLOYD AUSTRIACO took place - the express line to Shanghai. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the fleet comprised 65 ships with a total of around 235,000 BRT and the company had 6,000 employees. The company had become, after the state railroads, the most important transport company of the k.u.k. monarchy. The largest and most modern vessels were GABLONZ and MARIENBAD, which started operation in 1912 and 1913. Several large ships were built or begun during the war. Among these were the PILSNA with 8,040 tons, completed in 1918 and taken over by the LLOYD TRIESTINO in 1919, and the 8,051 GT CRACOVIA, which was begun in 1916 and was the third-largest ship in the fleet. It was only completed 1920 for LLOYD TRIESTINO.
LLOYD AUSTRIACO advertising for the French market - own collection, copy from Frenweh auf Schiffsplakaten, Helmut Cauer
LLOYD AUSTRIACO had established mainly in the Mediterranean countries agencies for its sales activities; Major general agencies were located in Vienna (from 1905: I., Kärntnerring 6), Berlin (Unter den Linden 47) and Prague (Wenzelsplatz 66). In most cases, independent commercial offices took over the interests of LLOYD AUSTRIACO in overseas cities such as Batavia - now Jakarta, Buenos Aires or Port Sudan, and in other European cities, as transit agents and points of entry.

HISTORY - AUSTRO AMERICANA the Austro-Hungary shipping line into the new world

HISTORY - One of the earliest steam ship companies in the world ÖSTERREICHISCHER LLOYD was founded in 1833 - I 1833-55

HISTORY - One of the earliest steam ship companies in the world ÖSTERREICHISCHER LLOYD was founded in 1833 - III 1914-19 becoming LLOYD TRIESTINO


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Coat of Arms of the k.u.k. realm of Austria-Hungary


  1. Nice blog, thanks for sharing such a nice blog. Your article is very helpful for me.

  2. Excellent presentation. Do you happen to have a map with LLOYD AUSTRIACO steamship lines in the Mediterranean during the second half of 19th century?

  3. Ship car I am impressed. I don't think Ive met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. You are truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. Really, great blog you have got here.


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