*RARE* ‘California Surfriders’ by Doc Ball
Alt title: “A Scrapbook of Surfriding and Beach Stuff”
SIGNED in at least two places by legendary surf photographer LeRoy Grannis – this was one of his earliest published projects!
One of the rarest and most well-respected surfriding books of all time, this privately-published 1946 volume by legendary surf photographer and surfer John Heath Ball, known within the surfing community as “Doc Ball,” is a delightful insider’s view, with the author’s unabashed commentary, of the California surfing community, its antics, tribulations and triumphs. Includes many stunning, never-before seen photos of the surfers (including some big names like Tom Blake and George Freeth) in their element by both Doc Ball and his close friend, “the godfather of surf photography,” LeRoy Grannis, who would later go on to become one of the most important documentarians of the sport.
‘California Surfriders’ by Doc Ball
Privately published limited edition, numbered #429.
Measures 7 3/4″ x 10 1/2″.
Hardcover, bound in red leather.
Illustrated with more than 150 b&w photos by Doc Ball and LeRoy Grannis.
Condition: Fine, with only minor edgewear to leather cover.
About John Heath Ball:
“John Heath Ball, known as “Doc Ball,” was a prototype surf photographer and surf club organizer from Los Angeles, California; founder of the Palos Verdes Surf Club in 1935 and author of the seminal 1946 privately-published “California Surfriders.” While Ball and Wisconsin-born Tom Blake are both credited as the forebears of surf photography, it was Ball who had the greater influence on the next generation of photographers, including fellow California surf world icons Leroy Grannis and Don James.
Ball was born (1907) in Los Angeles, raised in the nearby agricultural suburb of Redlands, and began surfing in 1929, just after enrolling in dental school at the University of Southern California. Three years earlier he’d begun shooting photos with a Kodak Autographic folding camera. Over the next 10 years he took about 900 black-and-white exposures showing all aspects of the sport: surfers riding waves, watching the ocean from a nearby cliff or pier, relaxing in the sand, making surfboards, or loading boards into a trailer. Ball purchased a Graflex camera in 1937, constructed a pine-box waterproof housing, and began taking photos from the water.
Ball’s images appeared in Life, Look, Popular Mechanics, and a half-dozen other nationally distributed magazines, as well as the Los Angeles Times. National Geographic published “Surf-Boarders Capture California,” an eight-page Ball portfolio, in September 1944.
In 1946, Ball published “California Surfriders.” Along with more than 150 photographs, it featured dozens of fervid Ball-written captions: “These giant storm peaks broke in monstrous wedges,” he wrote about a 1938 photo of Hermosa Beach, “spilling tons of brine into a grinding, churning ‘soup,’ [and] an experienced surfer trapped in a series of these behemoths can have a serious time of it.” Just over 500 first-edition copies were printed in 1946. Ball was unhappy, however, with the reproduction quality.
Virtually all photo negatives used for Surfriders, along with hundreds of other negatives and prints, were damaged or destroyed when Ball’s house was flooded in 1964. Later editions of Ball’s book were made using reproductions shot from the original; first-edition copies of California Surfriders, as of the early 2000s, were being sold by collectors for as much as $2,500.
Ball died of heart failure in late 2001 at age 94. In 1991, he was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame; in 1998 he was inducted to the Surfing Walk of Fame. ”
About LeRoy Grannis
LeRoy Grannis was born in 1917 and raised in Hermosa, began surfing in 1931, and was one of the state’s top wave-riders in the ’30s and ’40s.
He had already begun to venture into photography, and more than a half-dozen of his pictures were featured in photo pioneer and close friend Doc Ball’s 1946 book, “California Surfriders.” Grannis and Ball were both charter members in 1935 of the Palos Verdes Surf Club.
After being diagnosed with stress-related ulcers in 1959, and advised by his doctor to take up a relaxing hobby, he bought a camera and got more serious about photography. His work soon appeared in prominent surf culture magazines of the time including Surfer, Reef and Surfing Illustrated. He quickly became one of the sport’s most important documentarians. Other photographers were shooting from the water, but they were forced to return to land to reload. Grannis developed a rubber-lined box that enabled him to change film in the lineup. He spent the decade in California and Hawaii, capturing the best surfers in the world riding the best surf. He was photo editor of Surfing Illustrated and of International Surfing, which he co-founded. He was elected to the International Surfing Hall of Fame as the number one lensman in 1966 and in 2002 was awarded SIMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Grannis died on February 3, 2011 at his home on Hermosa Beach, California.
-Information from encyclopediaofsurfing.com and Wikipedia.