Stanley's Surf Gear


Surf Decal Collecting

revised 03/26/2015


Old Vintage Surf Decal collecting tips

With old surf decal prices rising faster than gold people have requested my advice on the matter. Below are a few of my observations.

Why so expensive?

Economics 101, supply and demand. Since decals were designed to be used immediately it's remarkable any have survived at all. These decals produced from 1960-1970 are intrinsically rare by their very nature. Condition is critical. Perfect no rips, tears, cut offs pin holes always command more. Torn, cut, water damaged etc. reduce value. Beauty and good artwork always come into play. Printing mistakes may or may not be and issue depending on severity.

Popularity. There's a few that all collectors covet, they can be called the "Classics". Below is a partial list of popular surfboard builders in the 60's

Santa Cruz - Haut, O'Neil,
Johnny Rice, Olson, Yount

Santa Barbara - Owl, Yater, Roth

Ventura - Tom Hale, Ventura Plastics, Morey Pope

San Fernando Valley - Ernie Tanaka, Gunther Glass, Val Surf

South Bay LA - Bing, Con, Dave Sweet, Dewey Weber, Greg Noll, Jacobs, Joe Quigg, Rick, Roberts, Velzy - Jacobs, Roberts (Bob Milner)

Orange County - Chuck Dent, Gordie, Hobie, Jacks, Jeffrey Dale, Jack Haley, Surfer Magazine (Rick Griffin's Murphy), Velzy, Wardy

San Diego - Challenger, Del Cannon, Gordon and Smith, Hansen, Surfboards Hawaii, Windnsea

Southern California was the surfboard building capitol of the world in the 40's, 50's and 60's, Boards sold in Hawaii and U.S. East Coast at that time was manufactured in So Cal. The majority of Decal decorators were located in So Ca Most Hawaiian decals and laminates from the late 60's through the early 70's were produced in So Cal. Early California hot rod speed part manufactures spawned the popularity of decals. All hotrodders had to have decals affixed to theirs cars to display what was under the hood. Hot Rod and Surfboard decals were printed by the same companies, sometimes on the same sheets, side by side. The advent of mylar and vinyl stickers simplified the decoration process eliminating the need for water-slide glue, spelling doom for many water-slide decal decorators.


What constitutes an old surf decal?

The old ones are almost always water slide decals, They were printed by a handful of printers who printed their mark on the back slider sheet, Art Decal Co, The Hyalac Co, Morse Decals. are a few that come to mind. Always inspect the paper the old decals were printed with lacquer, they kind of stained the paper, the paper is 30-40 years old so it usually is yellowing. Hang Ten was one of the the first surf companies to use R. Stanton Avery's adhesive sticker labels.

Where to find old surf decals

Yard sales, flea markets, book stores even surf shops are good places to look, they almost always have an oldie or two lying around. One time at a flea market I found 3 original dewey weber, 5 bing, 5 ole, 2 huge gordon & smith 4 wardy and others I can't remember in a box owned by a little old man and lady. The old man said in the 60's he drove their son up and down the coast stopping in surf shops buying patches and decals everywhere they went, San Diego, Huntington, South Bay. The farther inland you go looking, the better. Phoenix Az is big, Bakersfield too. The best finds are the least likely of places usually far from the beach. The SFV probably has more vintage surf stuff in it than Huntington Beach! Every weekend guys like and are cruising the streets in the valley looking for stuff, they've turned up tons! The word's out about surf collectibles everybody with a ripped tattered old decal thinks it's worth a fortune.


eBay is a great source of vintage surf decals however eBay is not the place to look for deals. The whole world's looking at the same stuff you are! Occasionally you find one all the others miss on eBay but not often. It's a good place to expand your collection if you have the cash! Remember you're bidding against Doctors, Lawyers, Plumbers and others with fat wallets..

Prices is a good place to get a ballpark idea of prices. Sam Ryan published a guide to longboard collecting before it became fashionable. His guides are now collectible. If you ever get a chance, visit his shop / museum in the Encinitas area.

Bootleggers / Fakes

With the skyrocketing prices, people are going to reproduce copies or fakes. There's a guy on eBay from Melbourne Florida who's been selling fake Rick Griffin murphy decals for years. I've emailed and asked where he got em and he never returns my email. Griffin's family could probably use the money. For awhile there was a guy on eBay, again from Florida, bootlegging Dewey Weber and Greg Noll t- shirts. Buyer beware! Always ask the seller if the decal is original. Always make note of the size too. People scan them in big giving the false impression they're large decals. Reproductions are cool just make sure someone's not trying to pass it off as the real thing.

The Future

Today's sticker is tomorrows collectible! Great artwork never looses value. Sticker runs are limited buy what appeals to you and likely it appeals to others.

The 70's and 80's stuff is getting popular now. I'd start buying up 70's decals, twin fins, pintail guns and trifins in decent condition. Shortly any foam board will be valuable with the rapidly expanding surfboard technology like surftech and boardworks with more coming. (written in the 90's before the demise of clark foam!)

Michael Richard

Stanley's Surf Gear


Waterslide Decal
Paper first printed with adhesive/release coat on slide sheet paper. Image(s) printed next according to number of colors, white usually going down first as background. Printing process reversed if decal to be applied inside window, viewed from outside. Lacquer Inks were invented by the Japaneese about 7000bc. Lacquer was developed by the DUPONT Company in the 1923. Under the DUCO brand, DuPont introduced the first quick drying multi-color line of lacquers especially for the automotive industry. It is now used by Nexa Autocolor - formerly ICI Autocolor, a division of Pittsburgh based PPG Industries as a tradename for automotive enamels in Asia. Lacquer worked nicely for logo laminates also. The downside is the toxicity and solvents involved.

AVERY Pasadena CA 1935
An idea spawns a new business, industry
A promising new business is established in the midst of the Great Depression when young entrepreneur R. Stanton Avery manufactures the world's first self-adhesive labels in a 100-square-foot rented loft space in Los Angeles. Marketing his labels under the name Kum Kleen Products, Avery improves his new product through innovation and determination. He develops the first die-cutting method, in-line machinery and rotary die for the manufacture of self-adhesive labels, the first synthetic-based pressure-sensitive adhesive and quick-release coated backing for self-adhesive products, the first systematic approach to label identification and pricing, and the first manual dispenser for self-adhesive labels. By the end of Avery Adhesives' first decade, annual sales approach half a million dollars. Avery labels are a success.

AVERY gains operational, financial strength 1955
The Company establishes its first overseas subsidiary, in the Netherlands. Now called Avery Adhesive Products, Inc., the Company divisionalizes its converting and base materials operations as Avery Label Company and Fasson Products. Avery Adhesives "goes public" through the sale of 250,000 shares of common stock and issues its first cash dividend in 1964. Meanwhile, capital expansion, by the third decade's end, accounts for 15 plants in the United States and overseas, with sales reaching $40 million.

AVERY Company acquires, develops superior technologies 1965
By its fourth decade, the Company, Avery Products Corporation, continues to surge on all fronts. Important new self-adhesive products propel Avery into new markets, while intensive research in adhesive technologies and environmentally safe coating methods result in the start-up of many new production facilities around the world. With annual sales at $300 million, Avery Products is recognized in 1974 by its inclusion on the Fortune list of the 500 largest U.S. industrial corporations.

Since Mylar® polyester film was invented in the early 1950s, it has been used in a variety of applications that add value to products in virtually all segments of the world. After nearly 50 years, the future still holds great promise for Mylar®. Its excellent balance of properties and extraordinary range of performance capabilities make Mylar® ideal for a broad array of applications in the electrical, electronics, magnetic media, industrial specialty, imaging and graphics, and packaging markets. Mylar® polyester film, only by DuPont Teijin Films, is available uncoated or coated in a broad variety of thickness and width.


ART DECAL AND COLORBRITE DECALS: Dear Surfcrazy, I enjoyed reading your page on surf decals. I would be a wealthy man if I had kept all of the over-runs in the 60's and 70's of the surfing decals we had produced. We made decals for use all over the world. The Duke was a very good customer and came to visit on occasion. Enjoy your collection of Laquer and enamel printed decals. Gary - Owner Art Decal and Colorbrite Decals (same Company). Art Decal Co

revised 03/26/2015
Surf Decal Collecting Tips
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