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Beach Grit

Discovered: Oldest surf picture ever!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

This surf picture is 120 years old! Has anything changed?

This image was apparently taken in 1890 and in the private collection of a Manchester man who lived in Hawaii by the name of Herbert Smith. It has been in his family for 120 years but they have decided to sell so we get to see.

The striking thing, I think, is the way these old Hawaiians are standing. To me they look exactly like surfers today. The kind of purposeful laziness, the head facing camera but not really caring, even the angles of the boards. Not too stiff, not too loose.

Also, it looks very fun out the back.

And surfing really is a wonder. It is ancient but part of me thinks it has always been the same. Sure the boards change but surfers, I suppose. Surfers seem like they’ve always been┬áthe same. It is, anyhow, what my head has been chewing on for the last few months as I punch out next book about the grandest love affair of all.

Happy Valentine’s day dear cocaine and surfing and happy Valentine’s day to you!