Idyls of Hawaii

PhotographerA.R. Gurrey Jr.

ArtistA.R. Gurrey Jr.

CountryUnited States

MediumCardstock, Gelatin Silver

VolumeIdyls of Hawaii

AtelierGurrey's Ltd. (Honolulu)


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Idyls of Hawaii


As its title implies, Idyls of Hawaii is a rare Hawaiian photographic view-book ca. 1910-1920, showing the natural beauty of the islands. Featuring landscape, marine, sunset and several views of natives with outrigger canoes, it is illustrated by American photographer Alfred Richard Gurrey Jr. ; (1874-1928)  the slim hand-assembled volume being from an unknown edition. (1.) Cord-bound, (25.0 x 19.8 cm) it features 11 individual gelatin silver photographs printed directly onto uncoated, double-weight, manilla-colored (possibly wove) paper leaves. Gurrey’s stylized monogram is reproduced in the corner of each plate except the frontis, which includes the photographer’s signature at the lower left corner and copyright symbol at lower right. Additionally, each leaf carries a separate photo-transfer copy-block in calligraphic script with lines from a poem relating to each photographic plate. These are usually credited to known authors including Robert Louis Stevenson, and in the case of the frontis and final plate, to Anna Cate Dole, (1841-1918) whose poem “A Psalm for Hawaii” was first published on the front page of the (Honolulu) Sunday Advertiser newspaper on Feb. 21, 1909.


The Photographer: Alfred Richard Gurrey Jr. : 1874-1928


Interest in A.R. Gurrey Jr. has come in the last decade mostly with his being acknowledged as the father of modern surfing photography. This has come on the heels of the discovery and subsequent sale at public auction, (at astronomical prices) of several different editions of his hand-made volume The Surf Riders of Hawaii, believed to have been first published in 1914. (2.) A short 1912 description of Gurrey’s working methods in photographing the sport of “surfriding” states:


These photographs of Surfriding are from the negatives of Alfred R. Gurrey, Jr., and some of the results of three years work in surf photography. It necessitated going right out against the incoming surf, right at its height and meant invariably a swamping of the canoe and soaking for all in it. Mr. Gurrey felt amply repaid for his day’s outing if at the end of the day he returned with his camera and one unspoiled negative out of twelve. (3.)


We learn Gurrey worked from an outrigger canoe while composing his photographs. The inevitability of his being swamped while somehow trying to coordinate with the surfers to line up shots-who of course knew they were being photographed-certainly would have been tricky, even under the best of conditions. The opening of his new photo and art store Gurrey’s Ltd. on Nov. 1, 1909, which featured a full line of Ansco cameras for sale and thus at his disposal, gives a certain amount of credibility to the idea he used a compact camera loaded with roll of film over the traditional dry glass plates for these surfing photographs as well.


But A. R. Gurrey Jr. was almost certainly taking photographs long before his groundbreaking efforts in this new field of “surf-riding” imagery took place around 1909.


An Artistic Family


At first glance, A.R. Gurrey Jr. seems an improbable candidate to become involved in artistic pursuits. Born in Kansas on Dec. 21, 1874, he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and plied his trade as a civil engineer in San Francisco before moving to Honolulu with his parents in 1899. (4.) This move occurred when his father Alfred Richard Gurrey, Sr. (1852–1944) was transferred from the Bay area to Honolulu where he worked for the Board of Fire Underwriters of the Territory of Hawaii as their head insurance adjuster. English born, Gurrey Sr. was an accomplished painter who specialized in landscape and marine subjects. Certainly influenced by his father’s artistic bent, Gurrey Jr. joined the Kilohana Art League, Honolulu’s first art association founded in 1894, soon becoming vice-president of this salon as early as 1901. (5.) It may also have been here where he met his future wife Caroline Haskins, (b. 1875-California) another Hawaiian transplant who became well known as a portrait specialist after completing a series of 50 studies of Hawaiian ethnic portraits by April, 1909, now owned by the Smithsonian.


Timeline: A.R. Gurrey Jr. & Caroline Haskins Gurrey

I have prepared the following rough outline by year for the accomplishments of  photographer Alfred Gurrey Jr. focusing mostly on his professional and artistic interests. Along with a variety of cited sources, many of which have been culled from historical Hawaiian newspapers accessible online through the Library of Congress. Brief items are also included for Caroline Haskins Gurrey.


An adherent of the Roycroft movement founded only five years before his arrival in Hawaii, these notices and brief news items reveal a man of many interests. Gurrey’s promotion of the arts in general as well as his active participation in civic life for the betterment of Honolulu should not go unnoticed along with his acknowledged roles not limited to art dealer, designer, photographer and businessman.



Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1902

Listed as vice-president of Kilohana Art League, Honolulu’s first art association.



Sept. 5

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser newspaper


A. R. Gurrey, Jr.

Hotel and Alakea Sts, Honolulu

Furniture Designed
Interior Decorations
Reproductions of Old Masters
Picture-Frames designed and made


Oct. 6

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser


first appearance of A.R. Gurrey Jr.’s monogram

Designed and
Carried Out
Attention Given
to Framing of
Book Plates
Trade marks

Dec. 20

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser


Furniture Designed
Elder & Sherpards Publications
Kaupeepee Legend of Hawa
Hawaiian Calendar


April 17

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

advertisement: revised monogram incorporating Gurrey along top margin and Honolulu along bottom

Tiffany Ware and Cut Glass
You will enjoy seeing these elegant pieces.
Come at any time during the day.

April 22

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser


KOA Wood Furniture

Koa and other Hawaiian woods worked up into furniture, unique designs. Prices moderate.

April 27  

(Honolulu) Evening Bulletin newspaper


KOA Wood Tables
Perhaps you have an original idea
for a design.  I will make any piece
of furniture from koa wood to suit
your individual taste.

May 29

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser


Rush and Leather
Seated Chairs-Mission Furniture-Picture Framing-Objects of Art.
Orders taken for miniature Painting (these by an artist in residence at the Gurrey studio: Miss Ethel M. Richardson who had studied at Dublin School of Art and had arrived from London on the ship “Sonoma”)


June 11

Marries Caroline Haskins of Oakland, CA in Honolulu.


Oct. 21

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

news item: headline: Photographic Exhibit and Posing Club Proposed

A.R. Gurrey Jr. re-elected as vice-president of Kilohana Art League



Feb. 9

The Hawaiian Gazette newspaper

news item: Gurrey mentioned about his involvement with the Free Kindergarten Association:

 “The annual report of the kindergarten work will soon appear, embellished by a characteristic cover designed by Mr. A.R. Gurrey, Jr., and showing one of his monograms that look like Chinese writing. The Supervisors passed a vote of thanks to Mr. Gurrey for the cover design.”


The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

March 21

news item: Gurrey Jr. listed as having become a member of the Honolulu Engineering Association

Sept. 30

(Honolulu) Evening Bulletin

news item: Gurrey elected Secretary to Waialae, Kaimuki and Palolo Improvement Club


The Hawaiian Star newspaper

Feb. 18

news item: Gurrey Jr. listed as judge for Floral Parade

Sept. 27

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

news item: A New Photographic Concern

A.R. Gurrey, Jr., and C.G. Bockus have bought Mrs. Crook’s interest in the Hawaii Photo Supply Company, and will hereafter conduct the business. A change of name has been applied for.

Nov. 2

(Honolulu) Evening Bulletin


Mr. A. R. Gurrey, Jr., begs to announce that he has assumed the active management of the new firm of

Gurrey & Co., Ltd.,

“The Photo and Art Shop”

Successors to Hawaii Photo & Art Co.

Every steamer is bringing new goods of high artistic merit and patrons are assured that the Photographic, Art and Framing Departments will be conducted on the basis of good taste, good value and prompt service.

Gurrey & Co., LTD.,
933-938 Fort Street   Phone 52


The Hawaiian Star

April 23

news item: Portraitures of Hawaiian Race

Mrs. A.R. Gurrey, Jr., has just completed a set of about fifty of the most faithful, and also remarkable, photographic studies of Hawaiian types ever displayed in these islands. The collection was removed yesterday to the art store of A.R. Gurrey & Company on Fort street, where the beautiful display may now be seen.

The collection forms a complete pictorial history of the Hawaiian race that has pronounced scientific as well as art value. This set will go forward with the Hawaiian exhibit for display at the Yukon Exposition in Seattle, after which it will become the property of the Smithsonian Institution.

The display as it stands represents a serious work and not a fad. It is something in which Hawaiians may reasonably feel a pride in seeing their race so faithfully portrayed. The suggestion has been made by critics that a set similar to the one made for the Smithsonian collection would be an important and valuable addition to the Bishop Museum.

Aug. 7

(Honolulu) Evening Bulletin


There’s quality in Gurrey’s Printing and Developing

(these type of one-line ads would typically run on successive days for a week or more)


Sept. 16

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

news item

A.R. Gurrey Jr. has retired from the managership of Gurrey & Co. and has disposed of his stock in the company. Norton Bobo, who took over the interests of C.G. Bockus some time since, now controls the firm. Gurrey left yesterday on the Acrangi for a stay of a month or six weeks on the mainland.

Oct. 17

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

news item:  New Concern.

On November 1 a new photographic and artist supply store will be opened on Fort street. Alfred Gurrey, lately secretary and manager of Gurrey & Co., who retired from that firm some time since, returned from the mainland on the Alameda with an entire new stock of goods.
The store will be on the Ewa side of Fort street just makai of Culman’s jewelry store. The building is now being refurnished and decorated.
A feature of the enterprise is that Gurrey will introduce an entirely new line of photographic goods, something never seen here before. While on the Coast he made it a point to meet the manufacturing magnates of the photographic world and in consequence he made arrangements for the handling of some novelties which have proved most popular on the mainland.

Nov. 6

The Maui News newspaper



GURREY’S New Art and Photo Store

Entire new line of Cameras, Films and Papers that have never been on the Hawaiian market before. Ansco Films and Cameras and Cyko papers are the highest product of scientific development. We guarantee them. “Gurrey Quality” maintained in all picture framing and developing and printing.
Island trade solicited.

1066 Fort Street    Honolulu

Nov. 13

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

news item: Gurrey’s New Name

Governor Frear yesterday approved an amendment of the articles of incorporation of Gurrey, Limited, the company conducted by Alfred R. Gurrey, photographer. The new amendment changes the name to the Arts and Crafts Shop, Limited, under which name Gurrey’s concern will be known in its new quarters.


March 25

(Honolulu) Evening Bulletin


Get That Next
Batch of Films Developed at
GURREY’S, Ltd., Fort nr Hotel

Nov. 8

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

advertisement: The first appearance for circular Gurrey’s Ltd. logo with inset photo of the young surfer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, (1890-1968) who would go on to become a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming.


If it’s in art we have it.

Gurrey’s, Ltd.

Dec. 7

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser


Ideal Gifts

Typical Hawaiian Subjects Pictured and Mounted on Material Resembling Hawaiian Tapa.


Jan. 1

Gurrey Jr.’s photo from 1910 showing Duke Kahanamoku riding a surfboard in Waikiki is published inset into the front color cover design by artist Stuart S. Tabor for Mid-Pacific Magazine’s first issue. The photo had earlier been used by Nov. 1910 as part of Gurrey’s Ltd. official monogram appearing on letterhead, gallery price stickers, etc. It was also famously included as part of their billboard for Cyko photographic paper with the ad copy stating:

 On Top  CYKO  The Modern Photographic Paper


Feb. 1

The Mid-Pacific Magazine, p. 120

article excerpt

Honolulu’s Busy Corners

Next to Culman’s is “Gurrey’s.” This Art and Photo Shop is the home of the Hawaiian Roycroftes, where you can see the work of the leading artists of the Islands, small views, native types and surfriders and other objects of art. Besides being the leading art shop, they are agents for the Ansco Cameras and Cyko Paper, with a developing and printing department that cannot be excelled.

July 13

Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper

news item from The Onlooker column  


An Artistic Service for Hawaii

A.R. Gurrey Jr. has recently returned from a riding and tramping trip on Hawaii, and I was interested the other day in seeing some of the photographs he has taken. He tells me that on Hawaii he found more nearly the primitive life than he had believed could still remain in these days of automobiles, wireless telegraphy and the concomitant desire on the part of many well-disposed and respectable citizens to forget that there was anything primitive about Hawaii.

Gurrey is doing for Hawaii what Edward S. Curtis, the noted Northwest photographer, has been doing for the West-and doing it better, because Curtis often allows his sense of the dramatic to outweigh the artistic, and the artistic is the essential truth. Curtis is the man who was given a fund of $70,000 by J.P. Morgan or Andrew Carnegie-I’ve forgotten which-to spend on a monumental series of photographs of the disappearing Indian. Curtis goes out in the wild for month at a time, hobnobs with the Indians and comes back with photographs that are marvels in their way, but they are tricky and lack the quality of sincerity. Curtis himself is apt to play the role of poseur, and he can play it well.

Such men as Gurrey, with his lens, and Hitchcock, (D. Howard Hitchcock-editor) with his brush and his eye for the splendid color that bathes all Hawaii, are doing work that will not be forgotten, and is just as tangible an asset for Hawaii as a record sugar crop or a successful experiment in tobacco.

July 24

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

2 front-page polo match photographs credited to Gurrey Jr. are published



Feb. 21

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

3 large photos credited to Gurrey Jr. published on front page of Extra edition with story headline:


Great Kamehameha Invades Oahu

subtitle: Historical Pageant at Waikiki this morning in commemoration of landing of Napoleon of the Pacific on Rival’s Domain-photos by A.R. Gurrey, Jr.

March 24

Letter dated March 24th by Gurrey’s, Ltd. Art and Photo Dealers addressed to the Ansco Company of Binghamton, N.Y.  The entire letter extolling the benefits of Cyko photographic paper is republished in its entirety by the firm as an advertisement in the May issue of Portrait magazine, an Cyko publication, as well as the September issue of The Photographic Times.


The letter (typed):

Ansco Company, 
Binghamton, N.Y.

We have read with interest the March “Portrait” regarding the demonstration of the “eight hour service” at the coming convention of the Dealers Association. We regret our inability to be present at the convention because It would mean both a profit and a great pleasure to be with you at that time. However, altho we are some 5000 miles distant it does not hinder us from being up-to-date and we would gladly pay for a full and detailed report covering the methods used in developing and printing orders in eight hours. We are handling an average of about 50 films daily. We turn out special orders in 18 hours and regular orders in 24. Other firms take from 36 to 48 hours, but it would please us greatly to do it in eight.


We take this opportunity to tell you of a test we put “Cyko” to last month during our Carnival week; Saturday, Washington’s Birthday we made 300 5x7 negatives and developed them the same day. Beginning Sunday morning with two men printing and developing and three men drying, trimming and assorting, we turned out 1280 prints - dried them, trimmed, assorted and put them in envelopes with sample prints on the outside of each and decorated our windows by 10:30 P.M. and were ready for business the following morning - we had practically sold out our original lot and were printing the second lot before the first of our competitors put theirs out Tuesday 4 P.M. This showed that we were in working trim but the real test was in the paper. Out of the entire lot there was not one discard, further there was an absolute uniformity in the 1280 prints each and every one being as perfect as if we had required only a dozen, we have been “Cyko” enthusiasts for several years, but this test gave us a great deal of pleasure and we pass it on.


Yours very truly,
Gurrey’s Ltd.

A.R. Gurrey Jr.

PS- dont think we are heathens for working on Sunday this was the exception not the rule.
(this being hand-written)



Publication of Gurrey Jr.’s  The Surf Riders of Hawaii.


According to authors Smith & Hall, (citation #4)  there are 8 known surviving copies (by early 2015) of Surf Riders comprising two separate editions:


The eight (8) photos that comprise each of these books actually transcend history through their artistry. A.R. Gurrey managed to impart the intangible with his images; presenting viewers with the true spirit, splendor and visceral joy of wave riding. 

For the first time the essence of the surfing experience was displayed on film.  (6.)


July 7

Honolulu Star Bulletin

news item:  A.R. Gurrey, Jr., Goes to See Mainland Art

A.R. Gurrey, Jr., leaves today on the Lurline for a two months’ trip to mainland art centers where he will look over recent developments in art, particularly along photographic lines. “I have no itinerary laid out-I want to go wherever there is something new to see in art,” he says.


Honolulu Star Bulletin

news item: Gurrey Jr. elected President of University of California Club of Hawaii



Gurrey Jr. included in the newly published: Men of Hawaii: Being a Biographical Reference Library. A few corrections are in order: It is believed he was married in 1903 as the couple’s first child Gwendolyn was born in March, 1904 and he had also completed his education at Berkeley by the late 1890’s.



GURREY, ALFRED RICHARD,. art dealer, Honolulu; born in Kansas, Dec. 21, 1874; son of Alfred Richard and Margaret (McSherry) Gurrey; educated University of California, 1908; married Caroline Haskins, daughter of Charles Dudley Haskins of Oakland, Cal., in Honolulu, June 11, 1904; two children, Gwendolyn and Richard. Civil and mining engineering, seven years California, four and a half years Honolulu; established Gurrey’s, Ltd., Honolulu, art crafts shop, 1903. Member of University club of Honolulu.


Hawaiian Annual

Gurrey Jr. listed as a member of Hawaii Promotion Committee. (and was most likely involved with this body earlier)



Nov. 8

The Garden Island newspaper  ( Lihue, Kauai)  

news item: Gurrey Gives Talk on Making Etchings

A.R. Gurrey Jr., of the Gurrey Art Store in Honolulu, addressed the Mokihana Club last Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Gurrey took up the subject of etchings, telling how they were made and something of the history of the art….


Gurrey’s Ltd. closes:

Gurrey’s Ltd. struggled financially for many years and finally closed its doors in 1923. After a year of unemployment Gurrey glumly reverted to his father’s business, taking a job as an insurance surveyor. The rumor at the time was that Caroline was actually supporting the family.  During this unhappy period the Gurrey home suffered both a fire and a flood.  This was a true disaster. It is believed that all of Gurrey’s original negatives were lost. Perhaps this was the final straw in a succession of dream shattering events. (7.)




Death of Caroline Haskins Gurrey



Death of A.R. Gurrey Jr. at the age of 53.




1. Only one other example is known: California auction house Michaan’s sold a copy with cover damage on Sept. 2, 2007; erroneously attributing the work in their description to Alfred Gurrey Sr.
2. It appears sole acknowledgement for the 1914 publication date was its inclusion in: Preliminary Catalogue of Hawaiiana in the library of George R. Carter: Honolulu: Aug. 1915: p. 166. cited as follows: SURF-RIDERS OF HAWAII. Photographs. Copyrighted by A. R. Gurrey. (1914?) B-95
3. excerpt: Riding the Surfboard, by Duke Paoa: in: Our Navy: Nov., 1912: p. 13
4. background: A.R. Gurrey, Jr.: by Joel T Smith & Sandra Kimberley Hall: from: The Surf Riders of Hawaii online resource accessed April, 2015.
5. see: Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1902
6. excerpt: The Book: from: The Surf Riders of Hawaii: by Joel T Smith & Sandra Kimberley Hall: from: The Surf Riders of Hawaii online resource accessed April, 2015.
7. excerpt: The Legacy: from: Ibid