Long before Kelly Slater was picking up World Champion titles for his surfing prowess, the sport was being followed by Hawaiian natives in the 19th century. And now the first ever picture of a surfer has been found in a photo album that dates back to 1890. The Hawaiian is photographed wearing a traditional loin cloth and shown standing in the shallows holding his rudimentary board. Missionaries who went to the island after Captain Cook’s death there in 1789 virtually stamped out all surfing in Hawaii because they thought it ungodly.
The Hawaiian is photographed wearing a traditional loin cloth. It survived in small pockets and this strapping surfer was clearly keeping up the tradition and the picture has survived and is now up for sale. Two albums full of snaps have been submitted for auction and other subjects include pictures of topless native women from Hawaii and Fiji – and the pre-sale estimate is £10,000.
It is unclear who owned the albums, although it is thought that whoever it was acquired them during their travels around the globe. Photography was able to bring the exotic back home and at the same time record history. They were bought by a private dealer at a house clearance many years ago and he is now selling them.
For sale: Two albums full of snaps have been submitted for auction and the pre-sale estimates are valued at £10,000. Other photos include some of Hawaiin Royalty including King Kalakaua – who died in 1891 – Queen Liliuokalani and Princess Kaiulani. In total there are 100 photographs, 20 from Fiji, and they record the characters and scenes that Britons found so intriguing to look at. Chris Albury, from Dominic Winter auctions near Cirencester, Gloucs, which is selling the albums on Thursday, said: ‘These are very interesting albums. And what does stand out is the photograph of the surfer which we think was taken in about 1890 and is one of the earliest photos taken of a surfer.’
Indigenous tribes: Some of the first ever pictures of the native people from Hawaii and Fiji shows them in their traditional clothes, which show their social standing ’He is pictured standing in the water holding the board behind him and wearing a traditional loin cloth. ’Surfing had been largely stamped out by missionaries who arrived in Hawaii after Captain Cook discovered it. ’They thought it ungodly, but it survived and this photograph shows the traditional way they surfed.’ At the time this picture was taken surfing had been almost wiped out on the island and it wasn’t until 1905 that its future was secured.
Up for grabs: The photographs were bought by a private dealer at a house clearance many years ago and he is now selling them. ’That year a youngster called Duke Kahanamoku and his friends started their own surfing club, Hui Nalu, or ‘The Club of the Waves’.’ The power of the missionaries had by then declined and Duke and his friends later became known as the famous ‘Beach Boys of Waikiki’. They are credited with the rebirth of surfing in Hawaii.