This book could have been written in 1925. It is a model of its kind: well-organized, quite literate, and with very valuable details, appendices, and a good index. There are lists of publishers, timelines, and most important, Artists -- and that list indexes the particular card(s) in the text. Further, in this little book there is a capsule history of passenger shipping from 1837 to 1950 --and it is a far better-written, more lucid and more informative narrative than most of what passes for history these days in larger size picture-books. If you read this book you will have taken a giant step toward being a serious collector.
That said, there are drawbacks as well as virtues in this little book's Britishness. Most of all, it concentrates almost entirely on British shipping, with perfunctory nods to the Germans (lightly represented), the French (hardly represented at all), or the (completely ignored) Dutch, Swedish, Italians, and Americans. And despite the virtuosity of the artists represented there is a certain sameness about the examples.
That really didn't bother me. This is a beautiful little book about a wonderful little subject. If it takes no note of the sleeker, more stylized Art Nouveau or Deco styles popular on "the Continent," it does give a very good exposition of the realistic yet painterly artists, many of whom (Wyllie, Dixon and Shoesmith for example) were superb draftsmen as well as painters --talents sorely needed, then and now.
I only hope Mr. Wall will tackle the other countries in another volume -- and I will rush to buy it.