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postcards  and posters

Postcards  and Posters

The dating of post cards is highly problematical, invariably the card was produced somewhat later that the actual photograph was taken.
Thereafter, the postcards were produced  for many years after their original release.
Some of the following examples are dated based on the approximate time when the image was first taken.

For a History of Postcards see:

A Catamaran, Madras
Higginbothan & Co., Madras and Bangalore.
No. 76

The address only to be written on this side,
except when sent to Europe, when this space
may be used (1 anna postage).

India postage

3 pies
To Europe 1 anna

Charles Gold:
Madrassan men surfing,1800 (detail).

Colour aquatint on paper
Australian National Maritime Museum.
Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds

Postcard Honolulu to England, September 1902.

Miss Barbara Thomas

Sapass Road- Handford
Cheshire, England.

Hand-tinted photograph of  
Native with Surf Board, Waikiki Beach, circa 1898, by
Frank Davey.

September 18 1902
Honolulu H.T.
Dear Barbara,
This is a picture of a native man going bathing.
The board he carries out into the water & ... ...  on a big wave comes in ... and rides up to the shore again.
Yours lovingly, Uncle Tom ?

Surf Riders at Waikiki, circa 1905.

Real photograph, undivided back.

Inscribed in pencil:
M. L. Wyles
Surfing at Waikiki

The Surf at Waikiki, circa 1905.
Photo by Baker Honolulu.

Surfboard riders are in evidence 
on the far reefs.

Shooting the Breakers, Manly, circa 1905.
Hall & Co.
 Hall & Co. Postcard.

Body surfing at Manly Beach, circa 1905.
Postmarked February 1908.

Prone-board surfer, 1906.

Sea Shore Hotel,
Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
How about a swimming lesson? 3/27/07

Skipper Funderburg identified the prone-board surfer
 in the bottom right of this postcard in 2010.

Post card image courtesy of New Hanover Public Library,
Robert M. Fales Collection.

Also see:

Funderburg, Joseph. Surfing on the Cape Fear Coast
SlapDash Publishing, Carolina Beach, 2008.

Illustration: Surf Riders, Forte dei Marmi, 1906.

Postcard: Forte dei Marmi Beach-front, c1910.

Postcard: Small Sailboats, Forte dei Marmi, c1910.

Viareggio, c1913.

Forte dei Marmi,Tuscany, to Leipzig, Germany,1906.

Prone Surfboard Riding, Italy, hand-drawn postcard, July 10, 1906.
Hand drawn postcard/lettercard, posted from Forte dei Marmi, Tuscany, Italy, in July 1906 to to Leipzig, Germany.
Charlie Spurr purchased the item from Germany posted scans to Facebook and re-posted by Rod Rodger's on
I was alerted to the re-posting by Bob Green, who contacted Olaf de Vries from Holland and Arthur Pauli from Germany to attempt
a translation after the difficult task of deciphering the hand-written text.
Rod Rogers also suggested the text could be
in Old German and that the addressee was a gentleman doing university studies in Germany and that the writer was probably female (need to check my notes but I think something to do with language word tense), and also written in somewhat formal, respectful form. 

In the foreground of the illustration one bather is shown riding prone on a small surfboard in the shore-break while another runs into the surf holding a similar board, with a convex tail.
It appears that both board-riders are female, which would be consistent with Rod Rodger's suggestion that the writer-illustrator is also female and the greetings a
lso from Frau Sattler, presumably a travelling companion, or chaperone.
Another surfer holding a board and approaching the water
can be seen further down the beach, along with several sunbathers under temporary shelters along the shoreline, fronting more substantial buildings in the background.

The surfboard-riding appears to be confirmed by the opening sentences, with the implication that some type of board
, a Girelate, is usedOlaf de Vries notes that a Girelate is like a shape of a Fish or object that has a shape or outline of a Fish, not a surfboard but an actual fish without a tail.
Also, the writer found the activity more difficult than it looked, at first it didn’t work well, and there as an element of danger when startled beneath the wave.

It appears probable that the writer was a reasonably confident swimmer, was possibly touring the Mediterranean by ship, and that  the recent extreme weather, resulting in the sinking of two small sailing ships, may have produced some local swell.
Furthermore, that the boards were most likely available for use or hire by tourists from local hotels or beach concession stands.

Forte dei Marmi was a summer tourist resort from the end of the 18th century, favoured by wealthy families from the north of Italy for the sea-air and to sand-bathe, and by 1900 its attractions had became known to other European tourists.
arly postcards of the beach-front have some resemblance to the illustration of 1906; one depicting two small sailing vessels, possibly similar the two little sailing ships sank in an enormous storm as witnessed by the writer.
A postcard (below) of the Grand Hotel at
Forte dei Marmi shows sunbathers, deckchairs and temporary sun shelters along the shoreline.

Postcard: Grand Hotel, Forte dei Marmi, c1910.
Importantly, small breaking waves are evident in the background of a photograph of three guests on the beach at Forte dei Marmi in front of the Byron Hotel around 1930, one wearing a two-piece Jantzen swimsuit.
Photograph: Guests, Byron Hotel, Forte dei Marmi, c1930.

Similar surf conditions,
and beach-front amenities, are shown (right) in an early postcard from Viareggio, a few miles south of Forte dei Marmi, a major coastal tourist resort in Tuscany known as the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The format is unlike most postcards of the period and it may be a lettercard, a folded card with a prepaid imprinted stamp, first introduced in Belgium in 1882.
With twice the space of a postcard, the message is written on the inside then folded and sealed around the edges, and opened by the recipient tearing away the perforated selvages.

The current transcription of the German script and an English translation reads:
Vor ein paar Tagen haben wir uns Ihre
Girelate geholt u. sind seitdem noch einmal so lange im Wasser wie sonst. Es wäre lustig wenn Sie da wären u. mitmachen könnten.
Zuerst gings nicht recht, da kam  man nur immer ganz erstaunt unter der Welle
heraus als man sah dass man eher zurück
geschwemmt war.
A few days ago we went to get your Girelate and since then are in the water for as long as usually again.
It would be funny if you would be here and could take part.
At first it didn’t work well, one always came out beneath the wave wondering as one saw that one was rather washed back.

Am 2ten Tag den ich hier war, war ein kolossaler Sturm mit ganz unheimlichen Beleuchtungen, dabei sind zwei kleine Segelschiffe untergegangen die wir noch so lange man sie sehen konnte beobachteten wie sie manchmal fast mit dem Masten auf Wasserfläche lagen.

On the 2nd day I was here, there was an enormous storm with pretty eerie [or uncanny] illuminations, thereby two little sailing ships sank which we as long as one could see them watched how they sometimes almost laid down on the water with their masts.

Es ist sehr lustig hier u. viel kühler als Florenz, dort flimmerte alles vor Hitze u. Cicaden rasselten, dass es einen ganz betäubte.
Jetzt geht’s wieder zumbaden.
viele Grüsse v. B.
auch von Frau Sattler,
u. H.
Brief kommt nach...

It is very funny here and much cooler than in Florence, everything there glimmered because of the heat and cicadas rattled, which made one pretty numb.
Now back to swimming again.
Many greetings v.B.
Also from Mrs. Sattler,
Letter arrives afterwards…

Thanks to Charlie Spurr, Rod Rodgers, Bob Green, Olaf de Vries and Arthur Pauli.

Surfing Bathing, Coolangatta Beach, Tweed Heads, circa 1906.
Greenmount ??

Card reads in part:

Dear Gladys, This is just opposite where we are staying.
It is lovely, we just have to cross over & we are on the beach.
Eric is having a lovely time.

Surfing Bathers, Manly N.S.W.

Postmarked 7th January, 1907.
Hand tinted?

Note the dark complexion of some of the surfing bathers,
possibly Tommy Tana or Alick Wickham.

Manly Beach

From Fairy Bower
Hall Photo

Note the screens and promenade that correspond with the postcard above.


Reel and Torpedo buoy in use
Bronte Beach circa 1906

Postcard format, the text reads...
"A Perilous Rescue, 
The Start Out." 
666. K & Co.

Longhurst: Lifesaver (2000) page 54

Surfing at Waikiki, Honolulu, circa 1908.

 Wall, Nichols & Co. Ltd., Publishers, Honolulu.
Made in Germany.
T Chrome No. 77.

Hand tinted.
Outrigger canoe surfing at Waikiki Beach, circa 1908.
Postmarked September 1909.

For the original photograph, see
Martin: Postcards (2008), page 100.
Variations on pages 11 and 14.

Surf Scene, Santa Monica, California, 1908.

Note: Santa Monica Pier, Safety rope and tower, and Cameraman on shoreline.

Surf Board Riding

Wrightsville Beach, 1909.

Image from the North Carolina State Archives.
North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Surf-Board Riding, Honolulu,  1910.
Made in Germany.
Number: 3584.
Hand tinted.
Rider on a long surfboard at Waikiki Beach, circa 1905.

Mailed to:
Mr. Anatole Kind, St Petersburg, Russia.
Message reads:
Come on in - the water's fine, Sincerely, [indeciperable].
Honolulu T.H. 4/5/10

Postmarked Honolulu, 6th April 1910.
Front: 1 cent, Blue, Columbus in sight of land.
Back: 2 cents, Red, Washington.

Surf Boat Riding, Waikiki, Honolulu

Aloha Nui - Hawaiian Islands.
Island Curio Store, Honolulu, 1910.

Note the platform to the right of the Moana Pier, one of two erected
on the 11th February 1910 for M. Bonvillain to shoot film of the second Clarke Cup Contest.
The galvanised iron piping was provided by K.O. Hall & Son.

18. Surf Riding in Hawaiian Canoe at Waikiki

Island Curio Store, Honolulu, 1910.
Private Mailing Card, Authorised by Act of Congress May 19, 1898.

Fairy Bower, Manly Beach, 
Sydney N.S.W.,circa 1910.
Hall & Co.
 C. B. & Co. Sydney.

Hand tinted.
Given the number of spectators on the left, probably taken at an early 
life saving carnival, circa 1908.
Before the construction of the South Steyne Bathing Pavillion in 1913.

Surf boat on duty, Manly, circa 1910.

State Library of NSW

Based at Shelly Beach, the local Sly brothers were renown for their surf skills.
Manly Council appointed Edward 'Appy' Eyre, from New Zealand, as the first professional lifesaver in October, 1907.

- Galton: Gladiators of the Surf (1984)  page 13.

Greetings from Hawaiian Islands
circa 1910.

Wakiki Beach, Honolulu, 
circa 1910.
The Paradise Postcard Co. 
Box 3461, Honolulu.
Printed in Saxony.

Illustration and text 
printed on the back of 
the card.
Waikiki Beach, famed in song and story, lies some four miles from the city.
Dreamy palmtrees, fringing the strip of white coral sand, nod in the trade winds,
while the warm waters of the tropics soothingly on the shore.

A Catamaran Madras
Native Man on Multi-hulled Boat Raft No.76
Higginbotham & Co.
Madras & Bangalore

Breakers, Atlantic City, N.J.

Number 2659
Postmarked July 10, 1911

Sport in the Surf, 
Honolulu, circa 1912.
Pub. Exclusively for 
The Island Curio Co., 
Honolulu, T. H.

Hand Tinted
"T. H." : Territory of Hawaii.

Manly Beach, Sydney, N.S.W.
Dated 28.5.12 (28th May 1912)

Although the postcard is dated as 1912, the photograph was probably shot earlier; given the huge crowd on the southern point, possibly the first combined surf carnival at Manly, 25th January 1908.
Also note the two boats sitting outside the break, possibly manned by the Sly brothers.

The card reads:
Dear Mary,
I went over to Manly today with ...
I wish you could all be with me today, I often thought how you would enjoy it to see the Rollers coming on the Manly sandy beach.
... This view was taken in the summer, I did not see any surfing when we passed the beach.
Sincerely, Mrs ...

Life-saving Reel, Iluka, North Coast N.S.W.
Dated 8/9/13 (8th September 1913)
Empire Post Card
Surrey Camp, Iluka, Clarence River.

101. Surf Board Rider. Hawaiian islands, circa 1913.

Steiner- The Island Curio Co., 
Honolulu, T. H.

2. Surf-Board Riders of Hawaii - The Sport of Kings.
Oceanic S.S. Co's splendid 10,000 ton twin screw steamers sail every 21 days.

Oceanic S.S. Co., Line to Hawaii, Samoa and Australia.

Linen postcard.

Surf Boat Riding, Waikiki Beach, circa 1920.

Rough Sea, 
Princess Parade and War Memorial, North Shore, Blackpool, circa 1920.

Surf Bathing, Manly, Sydney Harbour, December 1918.

Handwritten message:

Great to think the beastly war is over ... all good wishes for 1919.

The photograph was taken pre-1912,
appearing in the Queenslander Christmas edition for 1912.

See: Not Surfing Magazines.

(sporting in the surf at Coffs), JH, 1910-1920?
 J.H. Hawarth
Photo Artist
Coffs Harbour

Manly's Fred Notting pioneered canoe surfing with his Big Risk canoe in 1911
Canoes were regularly used in the surf on Sydney beaches in the 1920s.

Surfing at Muizenberg, circa 1925.
Valentine and Sons Publishing Ltd.
PO Box 1685, Cape Town.
British manufacture, Hand tinted.
Timber prone boards, Muizenberg, South Africa.

Rod Rogers notes that surf-board riding was so popular that Strict rules implemented by Council in 1911.
Walker, Michael.  Muizenberg - A Forgotten Story, St. James, South Africa, 2009, page 154

The Cape Peninsula Publicity Association brochure,1918: 
In the Pacific the islanders have made it an art.
At the Cape it has become a cult.
The wild exhilaration is infectious.
It steadies the nerves, exercises the muscles and makes the enthusiast clear headed and clear eyed.

Life and good spirits are qualities of the surf bather.

Bathing Enclosure, Durban, circa 1925.
Valentine & Sons Publishing Co. (S.A.)
P.O. Box 1685 Cape Town.
Hand tinted.
Timber prone boards, Durban, South Africa.
Handwritten message:
"This is where we going surfing on boards during the summer time at our Beach.
Note the way the surfboards are put flat on the water & the force of the waves pushes it along until you strike the sandy shore. Love from Vi, 1926."

Durban - South Africa (1900s- 1970s) | Vintage Historical Footage
1920s: 1:28 Beach Hotel, 1:54 Beach Enclosure, 2:11 Surf-bathers, 2:28 End.
1962 colour: 9:58 Skim-boards, 10:03 Sail-boats, 10:18 Malibu riders,10:45
End .

The Surf, Ocean Beach, Durban,
Copyright E.803.
circa 1930.

A crowd of bathers, some with prone-boards, wait for a broken wave inside the enclosure pier while a lone surfer
, of considerable skill, rides upright on the outside break.

While prone board riding was well established at Muizenberg and Durban following WW1 (see above), this appears to be an very early photograph of stand-up riding.

Postcard and detail forwarded by Alex Williams, with thanks, May 2018.

Hawaii - The Island of Dreams, circa 1930.

Illustrated Luggage Label

Gilbert and Ellice Islands Postage Stamp [SG 45], 1939-1965.
, who noted:
SG 45 was printed by De La Rue and depicts a native canoe crossing a reef.
The Gilbert and Ellice Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, were a British protectorate from 1892 and a colony from 1916 to 1976.
Since independence the Gilbert Islands have been part of Kiribati, and the Ellice Islands are now known as Tuvalu.
This gorgeous set of engraved definitive stamps was first issued in January 1939 and the same designs (with George VI later replaced by Elizabeth II) remained in use until 1965, when they were replaced by much less attractive lithographed designs.
The stamps were engraved by very talented anonymous staff engravers.
The set was engraved and printed by the three main British Empire/Commonwealth stamp printers: Bradbury Wilkinson, Waterlow, and De La Rue.

Engraved Stamp Beauties, viewed 17 may 2014.

Surfriding at Waikiki, 
Honolulu, 1938.
"C.T. Art-Colortone"
Made only by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., Chicago.

Hand tinted.
The centre rider bears the Outrigger Canoe Club logo.

Greetings from California
, circa 1940.
505: Beach between Venice and Sunset Municipal Pier
Venice, California.

Paddleboards, Venice, California, circa 1940.

Bondi Beach, Sydney.
Surf-boat, two white canoes and, far right, two surfers paddling surfboards, or a bit of wood.

Aug 1943

We have visited Bondi Beach only about twice - it is not one of our favourites.
Big crowds go there during the summer.
The waves are often specially high, so it is a 'surfing' beach - waves carry you in, whether you float or are on a canoe or bit of wood.
It also seems a favourite beach for sharks.
The building seen here consists of dressing sheds for bathers.
The old engineer lives not far from this beach.
This seems to be a photo in natural colours.

Surfing Australia,
circa 1939.
Australian National Travel Association.

Wentworth Hotel, Sydney, Australia, circa 1939.

Surfing in Hawaii, circa 1950.
Sport of Kings...
surfing at the beach of Waikiki.
Color photography by Stewart Fern.
Ray Helbig's Hawaiian Service.
*Reg. 1951, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Outrigger canoe, hollow and solid timber surfboards.
One of a sequence of three, see 
Martin: Postcards (2008), page 134

Surf Boat, Sydney, 1954.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
The Story of the Pacific Number 30.


Boating - Korolevu, Fiji, circa 1955.
A fascinating pastime at Korolevu Beach Hotel is to take a boat and venture out over the coral reef, where one may either gaze into a wonderland of marine life or indulge in the gentle art of fishing.

Ektachrome by Charles Stinson.

Suva, Fiji.

Surf ski (or variation).

Surfing Santa in Australia, 1958.
Postage stamp

Vaseline  Hair Tonic, 1960s?
Unknown magazine advertisement

Hawaii - the Aloha State, 
circa 1960.
H-9188 - The State of Hawaii.
Ponoi-Craft by WW Distributors Ltd., Honolulu-Hawaii.

The map of the island of Hawaii
includes the
"Captain Hook (sic) Monument".

(Outrigger Canoe Club)
Waikiki Beach, circa 1960.

International playground at the Cross-roads of the Pacific, 
noted for its fine surfing and bathing.

Dist. by Max Basker and Sons, Honolulu.

Many of the canoes have canvas covers.
Surfboard lockers, lower right corner.

The club was relocated from this 
site at the end of 1963.

Brian Wilson:
Surfer Girl, 1962.
Guild Music Company.

Sheet music cover with photographs of Brian and the Beach Boys at Waikiki.

Surfing, Gulf Coast of Texas, 
circa 1966.
FW-659 - Surfing is an ever increasingly popular sport on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Color by Frank B. Whaley.

The surfer entering the water carries a board fitted with a Hatchet fin by Dewey Weber, circa 1965.

World Surfing Championships 

San Diego, California, 1966.
Adhesive decal.

Monogram Models: Garbage Truck, 1968.

MPC 873 Hot Rod Magazine Stroker McGurk Surf Rod Plastic Model Kit  11-20-19

Surfing - Towan Beach - Newquay, 1968.
Postmarked: 13th September 1968.

Surfing Promotions, Belmont Place, Newquay
Photo by Ralph Clement of Surfing Promotions.

This fine action shot shows Surf Club members riding a medium surf
opposite the Harbour Wall, Newquay.

Vinyl Car Stickers, 1970s.
Not postcards, but unable to provide alternative entry point.
International Surfing Contest
Makaha Beach Hawaii.
In plastic bag with original price sticker, 79c.

Burleigh Heads

Tunnel Shooter

V-Line Surfboard and Bicycle Ticket
Railways Victoria

Rincon, Puerto Rico - 
Surfing Capital, circa 1970.
Some of the world's finest surfing spots all within three miles of each other.
Home of the 1968 World Championship.

Photo by Norm and Sue Grosskreutz.

Souvenir Programme
Australia, 1970
Captain Cook Bi-Centenary

Fifth World Surfboard Riding Championships 

Bells Beach, Victoria.

Surfing in French Polynesia, 1971.
Postage Stamp

Surfing in Hawaii 
(Sunset Beach), circa 1972.
Riding the big surf  is becoming more and more popular at the
beaches in Hawaii by both residents and visitors alike.

Nani Li'i Natural Color Card.
Photograph by Peter French.

Postmarked September 1978.

Surfing, 1973.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
Spectacular Sports
Card Number 11.


Catamaran Sailing, 1973.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
Spectacular Sports
Card Number 6.

Sailboarding, 1973.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
Spectacular Sports
Card Number 19.

Disney 50th Anniversary


Surfing Goofy
Turks and Caicos Islands, 1979.
Postage stamp.

Mark Warren, Fairy Bower.

Surfing Kangaroo 

(Fairy Bower), 1979.
Bartel Photography P/L, Sydney.

Tokelau: Water Sports, 1980, SG73-76
Postage Stamp
Noted by Hervé Manificat in the Surf Blurb, April 2019.
Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand in the southern Pacific Ocean.

Highly interesting illustrations with unusual prone surfboards,
possibly intended to illustrate a puke, the shaped bow-covering for a canoe.
Donald G. Kennedy : Ellice Islands Field Notes,

Rubber Mat, 1985.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
Surf Sports - Number 3.


Number 1: Boogy Boarding
Number 2: Kneeboards
Number 3: Rubber Mat
Number 4: Body Surfing
Number 8: Michael Peterson
Number 10: Robert "Nat" Young
Number 11: Pam Burridge
Number 12: Women's SUrfing (Lyn Boyer, Sunset Beach)
Number 13: Simon Anderson
Number 16: Catamaran Surfing
Number 17: Midget Farrelly
Number 20: Mark Occhilupo

Simon Anderson, 1985.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
Surf Sports - Number 13.

Simon riding an Energy Thruster at Dee Why Point.


Midget Farrelly, 1985.
Weet-bix Collectors Card
Surf Sports - Number 17.


Surfing Australia, circa 1995.
(Surfing Kangaroo).

Art Mail Press, Freemantle.

  Background Photograph:
Kevin Sharland
Kangaroo Photograph:
Axel Kayser

  The most popular postcard at the Sydney Olympic Games 2000.

Taiwan, 1999: Postage Stamp

Special 404 Outdoor Activities Postage Stamps (1999)
China Color Printing Co.
Designer: Lee Kuan-chi

Along with the increase of national incomes our citizens are gradually devoted to outdoor activities recently.
To comply with the government's promotion for building up both physical strength and healthy bodies through leisure activities, this Directorate General of Posts continues to issue a set of four stamps on the topic "Outdoor Activities Postage Stamps.
Surfing: Taiwan is surrounded with the sea, which is a good key to developing the surfing.
Riding waves between the fearful storms above the roaring sea under the blue sky gives one an enjoyment for the sense of speed and excitement.

Hot Rod Magazine's Stroker McGurk and his Surf Rod

Plastic Model Kit: MPC 873
Released 20th November 2019.

Kona Brewing Company : Big Wave Golden Ale


Martin. Mary L.:
The Ultimate Collector's Guide to Surfing Postcards.
Schiffer Publishing Ltd 
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310, 2008.
Soft cover, 165 pages, Extensive black and white and colour images..
Unfortununately the  book fails to live up to the Ultimate of its title and merely reproduces a limited selection of the available material.
There are a number of printing errors and some, mostly insignificant, images appear in multiple versions (up to five times).
These are not collated, but are spread through the book.
The catagorisation is haphazard and there is a distinct lack of analysis of the quality or historical significance of the postcards.
Critically, in the chrome era, there is no distiction between professional surfing photographs and those shot in unattractive surfriding condtions.
The pricing is rudimentary - everything is worth $7, some rare items more.
Most of the significant postcards  appear in previous Schiffer publications; Nancy Schiffer's Surfing (1998) and Mark Blackburn's Surf's Up : Collecting in the Longboard Era (2001). 
Very disappointing.

Redhead Matches
12 matchboxes to collect.


Mid-Pacific Carnival, 1915.

Pan American , 1949.

United Airlines, 1965.

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Geoff Cater (2008-2022) : Postcards.