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THE SURF RIDERS OF HAWAII, Gray Version, photographs and contents copyrighted by Alfred Richard Gurrey, Jr., Ltd., Honolulu, T. H., circa 1910-14. Softcover, 6 leaves of gray and taupe decorative cover stock paper with 8 mounted gelatin-silver photographs of Waikiki surfers, including Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (1890-1968), who popularized the sport of surfing. With English text, stab-sewn into gray decorative cover stock paper wrappers with printed black title lettering to front cover. 7 1/2″ H x 7 1/2″ W. Rare.
This important, hand made publication is the first known book dedicated entirely to surfing and has been credited with inspiring the genre of surf photography. In their 2005 Surfer’s Journal article, “A.R. Gurrey, Jr: The Genesis of Surf Photography,” Joel T. Smith and Sandra Kimberly Hall write “This photo compilation doesn’t just document wave riding, it endows the sport with an almost ethereal sense of splendor.” Fewer than ten original copies are known. This copy was discovered in the estate of an Ohio antiques dealer, who acquired it in a collection of books from a descendant of Maui businessman Henry Perrine Baldwin outside Cleveland in the late 1980s (along with the Gurrey book IDYLS OF HAWAII, see lot 701). This copy has never before been offered at auction. According to Tim DeLaVega, author of 200 YEARS OF SURFING LITERATURE, there were two different original versions hand made by A.R. Gurrey between circa 1911 and 1915: the Taupe version and the Gray version. There are two other documented copies of the Gray Version, including one that is listed in THE PRELIMINARY CATALOGUE OF HAWAIIANA IN THE LIBRARY OF GEORGE R. CARTER, Honolulu, 1915, p. 166 and was donated to the Mission House Museum in Honolulu in 1916. The other was purchased by the Spanish Counsel Ignacio de Arana (1880-1918), who arrived in Honolulu in September 1911 and left in 1912. The book can be seen in the exhibit SURF X 100 1912-2012, at the Maritime Museum of Bilbao, Spain.” This is the first time, to our knowledge, that any of the Gray versions have ever been offered at auction.
Biography: Alfred Richard Gurrey, Jr. was born in Kansas, graduated from UC-Berkeley, and worked as a civil engineer in the San Francisco area before moving to Hawaii around 1900. His parents had moved there in 1899, because his father, Alfred Sr. (1852-1944), was the principal insurance adjuster for the island chain, drafting the first fire ratings and maps for the city of Honolulu. His father, an artist in his own right, later became well known for his oil paintings. Gurrey, Jr. initially worked in Hawaii as a surveyor but quit to become a gallerist, establishing A. R. Gurrey, Jr. in 1902. The following year he married his wife, Caroline Gurrey, a talented photographer. In 1908 the Gurreys bought out the Hawaiian Photo Supply Co. and a year later, Gurrey Ltd. opened as the Hawaiian agent for Ansco films and cameras and Cyco printing paper. Soon thereafter Gurrey won the contract to handle all the photographing, developing and printing for the U.S. Naval Yard at Pearl Harbor. According to biographers Joel T. Smith and Sandra Kimberley Hall, there is no indication that Gurrey ever received formal training in photography. While his wife’s expertise may have been influential, their work differed: Caroline worked with carefully composed and lit subjects in her studio, while A. R. did virtually all of his photography outdoors. Gurrey was also an avid surfer and member of the Hui Nalu, the surfing club founded by future Olympic surfer Duke Kahanamoku and his friends. Gurrey’s photographs are said to be the earliest known photos of Duke surfing, taken before his first Olympics in 1912. Gurrey published some of his photographs in Hawaiian and national publications, but for some reason Gurrey seemed to stop taking photographs shortly after the publication of ‘Surf Riders.’ He concentrated on his art gallery, but the company encountered financial problems and closed permanently in 1923. Around the same time, the Gurrey’s home was hit by both a fire and a flood. It is believed that all of their original negatives were lost. Gurrey went into the insurance business and Caroline, who had continued with her photography, died at age 52 in 1927. Gurrey died a year later at the age of 53. In the years that followed, Gurrey’s name was often confused with that of his father, who outlived him by nearly two decades. His name and work were essentially forgotten until the publication of a Surfers Journal article in 2005, by Joel T. Smith & Sandra K. Hall, from which this biographical information was obtained. (Ref. “A. R. Gurrey, Jr.” from The Surf Riders of Hawaii blog, by Joel T. Smith and Sandra Kimberley Hall, https://surfridershawaii.blogspot.com/p/ar-gurrey-jr.html).
PROVENANCE: Acquired from the estate of Carol Illner of Ohio, who acquired it in a collection of books from a direct descendant of Arthur Douglas Baldwin, son of Maui entrepreneur Henry Perrine Baldwin (see lots 700-704 from this collection, also in this auction).
CONDITION: Covers with light toning, waviness, handling wear with minute tears to top and bottom of spine, largest 1/8″, ribbon cord to spine is intact, corners slightly bumped. Pages and photographs with light toning, general handling wear, waviness to pages. All photographs are present.