Sunday, October 3, 2010

Report: Action at Mick Mock's Vintage Auction

Mick Mock’s Surf Auction of Vintage Surfboards and Memorabilia.

The 9th Annual Mick Mock Vintage Surf Auction went down at the Harbord Diggers club on Sunday September 26th, 2010 on Sydney’s Northern beaches.

Old friend; Surf Film-maker Dick Hoole and his
'Storm Riders' framed poster.
This year’s auction started off with a preview of the goods and chattels of the massive 367 lots up for auction. The pre-auction viewing is the perfect chance for bidders and potential buyers to inspect the goods up close and at first hand. Remember all the goods that are sold at auctions like this are sold: 'as is, where is' and there are no warrantys or guarantees implied or supplied. So it is strictly 'caveat emptor' [Latin for; let the buyer beware].

So if you have a serious interest in any items, the pre-auction viewing is the perfect opportunity to inspect any item close up.

The 'viewing' walk-through was held for 2 hours on the Saturday prior to the Sunday auction. This viewing becomes a mini surf expo in itself with plenty of would-be purchasers, some vendors and interested parties all rubbing shoulders, taking pictures, talking surf, surfboards and chatting.

The viewing becomes a fun time to catch up with surfers, collectors, vendors, surf industry folk and fellow enthusiasts. Also cruising the aisles armed with notepads or cameras are an army of do-it-yourself surfboard restorers.

It also a time when people can register to be a bidder. This cost is $10 to register and you get a well-prepared and presented catalogue. The 50-page catalogue lists every item with a brief but detailed description and pre-auction estimate of the expected price. And it is designed to be an auction aid and is ideal for you to take notes on. It also offers tips, guidelines and auction rules.

Skateboards, poster and old magazines line the tables
during the pre-auction viewing at Harbord Diggers.
The 367 lots this year comprised of vintage surfboards, '60s longboards, '70s single fins and twin fins, skateboards, kneeboards, movie posters, original artwork, photos, clothing and original prints. Plus assorted ephemera of ocean collectables and surf craft rarities.

At an auction like this, you normally expect about a 65% sell through of goods with about 15-30% of items being negotiated for with the vendors for sale after the auction.

On the day of the Vintage Surf Auction, the sharp looking senior auctioneer; Simon Hill moved through the auction at a good clip. Simon is a professional auctioneer [in antiques] and it clearly shows in his smooth, time-conscious and efficient style. He is very comfortable on the Dias with the gavel in hand. Simon came complete with an in-built supply of funny, throw away one-liners to break the ice, keep buyers enthused and to entice healthy bidding. More importantly Simon is a surfer – hailing from Sydney’s Southside and Clovelly Beach. He was good and he knew his stuff.

The auction fell a bit flat when ex-Tracks editor Kirk Wilcox took to the microphone to give Simon Hill a well earned break. No where near as polished as Simon, Kirk made a few gaffs and didn’t quite know how to pronounce McDonagh Surfboards – a famous Northside manufacturer.

Your reporter, Steve Core, checking out some of 200
plus surfboards going up for auction. Photo: Terry Day
It entire auction took around 7 hours to get through from start to finish. It was a long but interesting day of surf auction action. Over 200 surfboards and way too many individual sales of varying interest to report all the details.

It was interesting to watch and hear the bidding unfold. A rare Barry Bennett ‘Toothpick’ 16’ x 20” hollow wooden surfboard from the 1950’s went for $4,000. It was in 9/10 condition and was originally custom and hand-made for a butcher at Avoca Beach. Amazingly, the board has only had two owners during its half century life. Quite a rare item and superb specimen of '50s surfcraft in Australia.

A couple of late sixties, Brookvale-built Keyo surfboards drew plenty of attention and bidding fever. A 7’ 11” Keyo ‘Plastic Machine’ Design Stringerless, circa ‘67/’68. In 7/10 condition, it went for $1,900. Another similar Keyo went for $2,000.

Apart from the surfboards, some of the more 'odd' items on hand were; an Andy Irons Bobble Head doll, commemorating his 2nd World Title, with a pre-auction estimate of $200-$400 - was passed in with no bids. Glass shower screens with ocean scenes also came under the hammer. Surf dance posters and old surf music LPs. The most interesting item that blew a few minds with its final fall-of-the-hammer price was a 1950's turtle shell that went for, wait for it... a cool $1,000.

Cronulla's Larry Cohen poses with his newly accquired
G&S Bobby Brown shaped 7'10" pintail. Circa '68/'69.
A good, long-time friend from Cronulla, Larry Cohen, picked up two boards to add to his growing collection. Larry is a niche collector of stringerless era surfboards and has about 60 surfboards in his collection. Larry paid $800 for a 8’ x 23” Peter Clarke ‘Stringerless’ Tracker Pintail single fin. Shaped by Glenn Ritchie and would have been finished coated by my good-self when I worked at Peter Clarke’s northside factory in Brookvale in 1968.

Larry also snagged another Southside classic that came out of the G&S Taren Point factory of Gordon & Smith circa '68/’69. A 7’10” pintail, in 8/10 condition and shaped by ex-Cronulla surfer, ‘Blond’ Bobby Brown [now of Forster, NSW]. It went at the fall of the auctioneer’s hammer for $600.

The auction featured surfboards from a massive range of famous and not-so-famous shaping names came up for bids. Here's just some of the shaping names; Dick Van Straalen, Midget FarrellySimon Anderson, Geoff McCoy, Bob McTavish, Michael Cundith, Mick Dooley, Nat Young, Peter Townend, Terry Bishop, Keith Paull, Colin Gow, Dominic Wibrow, Warren Cornish.

A signed photo of MP winning the first Stubbies in '77
being interviewed by Hawaiian Lord James Blears
Here's just some of the classic named surfboard labels; Country Corn, Nirvana, Lightning Bolt, Natural Awareness, Chris Crozier, Bob McTavish, Inner Release, Emerald, Summercloud, Mark Richards, KC, Maddog, Neilson Brothers, Bronzed Aussies.

There were even a few US made boards with well-known brand names like; Bing, Dewey Weber, Greg Noll, Lightning Bolt.

I had a short chat with the NSW Central Coast's shaping icon Bill Cilia [Nirvana Surfboards] who was in the house. I counted about 12 Nirvana or Bill Cilia shaped boards on the auction blocks. Bill was the vendor for some of the lots - does this mean we won't see a Bill Cilia Collection Museum on the Central Coast in the near future?

I noted that the momentum and the crowd numbers really dropped off towards the end of the auction [which to a certain degree is natural]. Mick and his team need to come up with some creative solutions to help hold the numbers towards the end of the day. Perhaps some cool door prizes where registrants needed to be present at the end of the day in order to claim a winning prize.

A selection of the surf movie posters up for sale. The
top right three are all Paul Witzig's classic old movies.
Interestingly, but not surprising, there were no surfboards from China or Taiwan present. As Mick Mock says and this term should become the catch-phrase of the auction; "Classic not Plastic".

All in all, a very enjoyable day. A big thanks to Mick and his hard working team for their co-operation to assist me to compile this report.

As our sport grows in age since its conception and our original surfers reach their tender, more well-heeled mature years, I think collecting surf memorabilia will only grow stronger and more valuable each year. Surf Museums have begun to spring up in recent years and surf industry giants have budgets and growing history now that is worthy of collection.

I can recommend the auction as being more that well worth a look in next year folks, plus the bonus is that the surf is just out the door if you feel the urge half way through the salty proceedings.

Story & Photos: Steve Core

AUG 2011: If you have an interest in Surf Swap Meets or Surf Auctions; then check my brand new blog; Swap Surf - a blog [as it grows] that will list, detail and report on Surf Swap meets and dry land surfboard events. Click Here

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