Excessively rare unsigned book: The Surf Riders of Hawaii by A. R. Gurrey, Jr. First edition. Honolulu: self-published circa 1914. Stab-sewn into mottled stiff mottled taupe wrappers, 7.5 x 8, featuring six leaves of heavy brown wove paper with two pages of text, and eight original silver gelatin photographs of surfers affixed within. One of the subjects is legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku, who popularized the sport—the key photograph in this collection is of a young Kahanamoku surfing with Diamondhead in the background, an iconic photo credited for the boom in early Hawaiian tourism. The cover has an affixed paper title label, "The Surf Riders of Hawaii." In very good to fine condition, with partial separation to the top of the cover spine; interior pages are all clean and fine.
Only eight of these handmade books are known to exist, and this example descended through the Gurrey family: of those known, three copies are in permanent museum exhibits (Bishop and Mission, Oahu, and Musee de Bilbao, Spain) and five are private copies (this—the Gurrey family copy—being one). This is the exemplar copy for the Centennial edition, published in Hanapepe, Hawaii, by Timothy T. DeLaVega in 2014. Includes copy number 1 of this edition, signed and inscribed on the colophon by the publisher in gold ink, "Mahalo Richard. Keep the History! Aloha ke akua. Tim DeLaVega," housed with the original in a brown clamshell box.
The Surf Riders of Hawaii is not only the first book to be dedicated entirely to surfing, it is the genesis for the art of surf photography. Invoking the poetry of Lord Byron and crafting his own artistic prose, Gurrey—through text and image—succeeded in capturing the visceral excitement of Hawaii's ancient pastime: "On comes the surf, it strikes—arches, curves and falls; and as it plunges forward like a frightened seahorse, the fearless surfrider is at its mane. With board pointed shoreward he rides this untamed fury."
In their 2005 article 'A. R. Gurrey Jr. The Genesis of Surf Photography,' published in in The Surfer's Journal, Joel T. Smith and Sandra Kimberly Hall cited 'four known copies' of this work, and observed: 'This photo compilation doesn't just document wave riding, it endows the sport with an almost ethereal sense of splendor.'
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.