November 13, 2006

Tiki Quest: Collecting the Exotic Past

Filed under: History,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 5:17 pm
Tiki Quest: Collecting the Exotic Past, by Duke Carter
Tiki Quest: Collecting the Exotic Past,
by Duke Carter

Tiki Quest isn’t new, it actually came out in 2003, but a conversation I had with someone who’d just purchased it last week is inspiring me to spotlight it today. It’s every bit as deserving of a place on your bookshelf today as it was when it came out three years ago.

Tiki Quest is the creation of Duke Carter and his wife Amy, who have amassed a very impressive collection over their years of tiki obsession. The book is 183 pages of large, full-color images of items from their collection, beautifully photographed so that every detail can be appreciated. All of the items in the book are from the vintage era of Polynesian Pop (’70s and earlier), and most of the book is dedicated to tiki mugs, although postcards, matchbooks, swizzle sticks and other items are also presented. A bit of history is included, particularly around the manufacturers of the mugs and their sometimes tangled relationships to each other.

Pages from Tiki Quest, by Duke Carter
Pages from Tiki Quest, by Duke Carter

As is typically the case, Duke and Amy struggled a bit in getting their book published — most publishers who had interest in the book wanted to cut corners on the quality of the book (the quality of the photographs was of high importance to the Carters), or insisted on including current-day values, turning it into a price guide (understandably, the Carters didn’t want the focus to be on the monetary value of the items). In the end, the Carters took the bold step of self-publishing, and made a deal directly with a printing & binding shop.

Pages from Tiki Quest, by Duke Carter
Pages from Tiki Quest, by Duke Carter

The result is well worth the extra effort, as the final product is a loving tribute to the golden age of Polynesian Pop. I fell in love with tiki all over again when I first received the book. The pages are now falling out of mine after spending lots of time admiring and savoring the items shown in it. It’s one of my favorite Tiki books.

If you’d like to order Tiki Quest, it’s available on Amazon.com, or directly from Duke & Amy’s Pegboard Press.

One Response to “Tiki Quest: Collecting the Exotic Past”

  1. Bea Says:

    The picture quality and information in this book is top notch – I’ve referred to it many times, but as you noted, the pages have come loose in my book as well. It is a shame that in order for the Carters to publish a book of this caliber they had to self-publish because I am wondering in the process of doing that did the company who printed the books skimp on the glue? I’m going to order another copy to keep in pristine condition and continue to use my original taped-together copy as a reference.

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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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