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Handmade wooden handboard

Date: c 1929
Overall: 242 x 195 x 20 mm, 0.25 kg
Medium: Wood, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Handboard
Object No: 00018292
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    This varnished wooden body surfer's handboard is decorated with a poker-work head and shoulders self portrait of a surfer smoking a cigarette. The initials BWH are in the lower left corner, with the dates 1928-29 in the lower right corner. Surf season dates from the 1929 to 1937 also appear around the portrait.

    SignificanceThis rare handboard is representative of the early designs used by bodysurfers in the first half of the 20th century. The pokerwork portrait and seasonal dating is unique and personal, and documents the use of the board.
    HistoryAt the end of the 19th century body surfing was adopted into formal surf lifesaving practice and competition, becoming an integral part of the developing sport. It was most likely introduced to Australia by Pacific Islander Tommy Tanna, who taught some locals the art while he was working as a house man at Manly in the 1890s. Bodysurfing changed the nature of the swimmer's interaction with the sea, enabling the swimmer to move past the threshold of the breakers. The handboard was used from around the 1920s to help the bodysurfer hold a wave longer and to keep his or her head up throughout the shoot.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Handgefertigte Holzbrett Surfer Handboard

    Assigned title: Handgemaakte houten surfer's handboard

    Web title: Handmade wooden handboard

    Related People
    Maker: B W H

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