Pacific System Homes Hawaiian surfboard (late 1930’s)
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Pacific System Homes 11’ wooden surfboard made in the late 1930’s. Featuring a beautiful redwood/pine construction with nose/tail blocks and early low profile wooden fin. Weighing approximately 100 lbs. This remarkable piece of surfing history has been in the same Long Beach, CA family since it was purchased, being handed down through several generations. Photo of early surfers between the Long Beach piers, before the break water was installed -December 11, 1938. An incredibly rare and highly sought after historical wooden surfboard!
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History of Pacific System Homes Surfboards
Little is known about the first Pacific System Homes boards, produced either in late 1929 or early 1930, except that they were made from redwood strips held together with lag bolts, and were probably 10 feet long and weighed about 70 pounds. Pine and redwood boards replaced the all-redwood boards by 1932; full-length redwood-edged balsa boards, weighing as little as 45 pounds and costing less than $40, were introduced in the mid-’30s. A swastika symbol—used by American Indians, Vikings, and Greeks as a sign of good luck and harmony—was wood-burned or print-marked onto the back of all Pacific System Homes’ Swastika boards up until 1937. The following year, after the swastika-decorated German military invaded Austria, Pacific System changed the line name to “Waikiki Surf-Boards.”
The 1939 Waikiki board came in 10-, 11-, and 12- foot models, as well as a 14-foot paddleboard, and five- or six-foot “kiddie boards.” All were typical of the plank period: blunt-nosed, squared off at the tail, with near-parallel sides. Pacific System Homes boards were made in production runs of 15 on sawhorses in a designated dust-free area of the company’s 25-acre site, and were sold in beach clubs, sporting good stores, and high-end department stores like Robinson’s and the Broadway.
Custom-made Pacific System Homes boards were also available, built by top California surfer-boardmakers like Pete Peterson and Whitey Harrison. California boardmaker Dale Velzy, who introduced the popular “pig” design in 1955, remembers that the Pacific System boards were among the finest on the coast. “Most of us had homemade jobs or hand-me-downs, while the rich guys down there at the Bel Air Bay Club, or the Balboa Bay Club, had the Waikiki models. So we’d sneak down to Balboa and steal ’em.”
Pacific System Homes surfboards were promoted with illustrated brochures and magazine ads. Each board came with a one-year guarantee on workmanship and materials. In 1938, the Waikiki model became the official board of Honolulu’s renowned Outrigger Canoe Club. Pacific System Homes stopped producing surfboards not long after America’s entry into World War II.