First, allow me to beg for forgiveness regarding the bad pun in the title of the post. I’d promise not to do it again, but I don’t want to waste whatever little credibility I have left!
More to the point, there is a fascinating example of a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt board that is currently for sale on eBay. I have posted pictures of the board below (pics are via the eBay listing).
While a genuine Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt board from the 1970s is a holy grail for many surfboard collectors, there’s one catch: it’s often difficult to establish the provenance of true Lopez handshapes. For example, there are the California Bolts, which, as their name suggests, were produced on the West Coast and not in Hawaii. The California Bolts often bear a Danny Brawner-designed laminate meant to approximate Lopez’s signature. The California Bolts were mostly shaped by Mickey Munoz and Terry Martin.
In addition, I have heard from Randy Rarick, who is the authority on all things relating to Hawaiian surfboards and their creators, that Lopez only signed the blanks of his handshapes — never on top of the glass.
Still, I am a bit confused, given that there are some distinct qualities about the Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt being sold on eBay, that matches up with some other boards that were recently sold at auction.
As you can see in the pictures above, “A Pure Source” has been written on either side of the Lightning Bolt laminate. You can also see a Gerry Lopez signature off to the far right in the second picture. Back in the 1970s, “A Pure Source” was the marketing slogan for Lightning Bolt. Based on Rarick’s guidelines — the fact the eBay board has a Lopez signature on top of the glass, and not the blank itself — one might say the board is not a handshape.
And yet there were two boards sold at recent US Vintage Surf Auctions that were advertised as Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolts.
Board #1: 1975 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt #180, Sold at USVSA (Link)
The first USVSA board, pictured above, has the exact same signature formatting as the eBay board at the top of the page: you have “A Pure Source” written across the Bolt laminate, and then a Lopez signature off to the right, signed on the glass itself. The USVSA website dates the board to 1975, and it claims that it is a Lopez handshape. In addition, the USVSA site claims the Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt is numbered #180.
Board #2: 1977 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt #404, Sold at USVSA (Link)
Are we noticing a pattern yet? Same “A Pure Source” logo and handwritten signature in the exact same placement as the other two boards featured in the post. USVSA dates this board to 1977. This time, there’s a closeup of the serial number. The board is #404, which is stamped on the stringer. USVSA board #2 has a wedge stringer, which is an unusual touch.
It should also be noted that both USVSA boards have fin boxes. Rarick also tells me that the vast majority of Lopez handshapes made in Hawaii had glass-on fins.
In conclusion, I’m confused about how to explain this curious trio of Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt surfboards. Based on Rarick’s context, I do not believe any of these three boards are Lopez handshapes. As a refresher, none are signed beneath the glass, and at least two have fin boxes (it’s unclear with the eBay board whether or not the fin is glassed on.)
Second, both USVSA boards commanded relatively low prices at their respective auctions. Board #1 sold for $2,700 and board #2 went for $2,400. Compare this to a 1972 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt (with a glass-on fin, and a unique “signature”, which is a whole different story) sold at USVSA for $4,225, which you can find here.
I guess I can’t figure out why Lopez would go through the trouble of hand signing these boards with “A Pure Source” and a signature on the deck if he didn’t shape them himself. As always, if you have any information, please let me know! If there’s one thing I enjoy more than making bad jokes in blog post titles, it’s hearing from readers.