It is a receipt, used in some trades and at certain ports, showing accurate details of a consignment of goods loaded, as found in a ship’s tally or loading survey.
It should bear a reference number and show the date and place of loading, any shipping marks, the number of pieces or packages, and the actual quantity and apparent order and condition of the goods as received by the ship. It may state “received in apparent good order and condition unless otherwise stated”, or similar words. It should be made out on board (where a copy should be retained) and given to the shipper, who should carefully copy its details onto a set of blank bills of lading obtained from the carrier or his agent. The shipper should then present the bills of lading to the carrier (or agent, or ship) for signing, at the same time returning the original mate’s receipt, which should be compared with the ship’s copy and the details on the bills of lading before signing. Any shortage or defect shown on the mate’s receipt should also be shown on the bill of lading. If all is in order, the bills of lading should be issued to the shipper.