Surf's Up At Bonhams!


Los Angeles- From its origins in Hawaii to its heyday on the shores of California, surfing has captivated the American imagination. More than a sport, surfing is a lifestyle, comprising not just surfboards, but the art, music, and literature that has grown up around it. Launching July 29 to August 12, Bonhams and TCM present ... California Dreaming: Surf and Skate in Film and Popular Culture, an online auction of surfboards, skateboards, memorabilia, posters, fine art, guitars, and more, that explores the history and influence of surfing on American culture.

Most of the sale hails from two sources: the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum, an eclectic repository of surfing history located in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, and a private collection of Hawaiiana formerly on display at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki.

Catherine Williamson, Bonhams' Director of Entertainment Memorabilia, commented, "The history of surfing is the story of innovation in the pursuit of pleasure. There is always a better wave; there is always a better board."

The sale shows the evolution of board-making, from the heavy slabs of redwood used at the beginning of the century through the many clever innovations made by surfers over the years. Examples include a Pacific Systems Square Nose Redwood Board from the 1920s (estimate: $9,000-10,000), a Pacific Systems Redwood and Balsa Board from the 1930s (estimate: $9,000-10,000), several solid Balsa boards and the foam and fiberglass boards of the 1960s. Not content to surf the waves, surfers also devised a way to ride on land, inventing the skateboard as a way to surf when the waves weren't accessible. The sale also features examples of cleverly home-made skateboards from the 1940s and 1950s, including a modified Flexy Racer sled (estimate: $200-300), before the surf industry began manufacturing skateboards to an eager audience in the 1960s, like the Cooley "Bun Buster" skateboard (estimate: $250-200).

The film and music inspired by the Southern California surfing scene is beloved worldwide. The SBSM collection includes a vintage 1959 Fender Stratocaster (estimate: $25,000-35,000) and 1964 Jaguar (estimate: $4,000-6,000), the style of guitars that created the distinctive "surf music" sound of the Beach Boys, the Ventures, and Dick Dale, as well as 3 prototype surf guitars shaped by legendary board maker Reynolds Yater for Fender, one-of-a-kind guitars ($15,000-25,000 to $25,000-35,000) that were not put into production.

The sale also features posters and memorabilia from classic 1960s beach movies like Ride the Wild Surf and Muscle Beach Party (estimate: $200-300) and a selection of scripts and photographs from the TV show Gidget (estimate: $1,500-2,000).

The world of fine art has also felt the lure of surf culture. The sale includes original works of art by artist Kevin Ancell, including modified surfboards and guitars (estimates $2,500-20,000); a painting by surfing legend John Severson (estimate: $3,000-5,000); and a "surf rat" sculpture designed by SBSM owner James O'Mahoney (estimate: $9,000-12,000), which illustrates the marriage of surf culture and hot rod culture, two worlds very close to Jim's heart.


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