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A name used to describe an officer apprentice in a merchant shipping line, possibly because in most shipowning companies the apprentices wore caps with a thin gold lace binding round them. The apprenticeship system was often much abused in some shipping companies, youths buying an apprenticeship and then frequently serving as unpaid deckhands under masters and mates who did little or nothing to teach them their trade. This was, perhaps, particularly the case in the big trading barques in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period when these ships were struggling for their existence against the competition of the tramp steamer and as a result were largely undermanned to save overhead costs.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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