August Holland’s 3 tiki prints: The Pearl of Wisdom, Drums of the Night, and The Fire God (very rare!)

august holland pearls of wisdom tiki printI’ve written before about our love for Vladimir Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl’, which also is widely known as ‘The Green Lady’ — it’s a classic print to seek out for your tropical lounge, polynesian style patio or home tiki bar. Today, another classic — just as ‘essential’ and super fun to hunt for: August Holland’s ‘The Pearl of Wisdom’. It was Holland’s most widely distributed work. But wait! There are two more — the hard-to-find Drums of the Night, and the rarest-of-the-rare, The Fire God.

Hoarding wildly Collecting intensely for my planned conversion of my dining room/living room into an epic Mahalo Lounge (working title), I recently found a framed print (shown above, I cropped out the frame) of Holland’s The Pearl of Wisdom online and slapped my credit card down as fast as I could. It’s absolutely beautiful — the blue is really quite intense. Note, however, that I played with the color in my photo program. It’s soooo hard to get it right photographically. My online version is more saturated, more intense, because I am not good at photo manipulation and admit, I went for ka-pow.

Fascinatingly: I found an owner online who owns a print that was wired so that the Maori idol holding the bowl is backlit. If I can figure out how to this safely — and if it works (my print seems to be mounted on some sort of fiberboard that seems pretty opaque) — heck to the yeah! See the light up version here.

There’s an August Holland website, which says that Holland created The Pearl of Wisdom in the 1960s or 1970s, and that thousands are in circulation. Ya wouldn’t seem to know it, because I don’t see them on ebay or etsy very much. And with the tiki revival underway, golly, they often are set at pretty high prices, or, if set at more ‘reasonable’ prices, seem to get snapped up fast.

There also is a second print — Drums of the Night — which looks to be even more rare, judging by the lack of online sales listings. Here I go again: Putting something out there that I want neeeeeeeeeeed, thereby diminishing my own likelihood of being able to snap it up at a decent price.

august holland the fire god tiki-socialite-photo-from-tikiroom-com-used-with-permissionAnd get this — there is also an extremely rare third print: Usually referred to as “The Fire God,” a tikiroom reader with a copy showed the printed name as “A Power Within”. Shown above, used with permission from owner nomeus of www.flurbex.com, spotted on Tiki Central aka tikiroom.com. He says he found it on ebay. Thank you, nomeus! P.S. I really love the frame, too (idea!). BE STILL MY BEATING HEART — if I could collect all three. Anyone else out there have this? All these?

About August Holland

The August Holland website has a good biography of Holland (update: alas, the website is no longer online). Born in 1928, he was a lifelong resident of Mendota, Illinois, where he built a successful career as an artist. In particular, he focused on and was known for his oil paintings (with subsequent prints) of seascapes. The site explains that so many prints of The Pearl of Wisdom  went in circulation because they were featured in S&H and Gold Bond stamp catalogs and in furniture stores. Holland died in 1998.

How did I find my The Pearl of Wisdom print at a ‘reasonable’ price?

My go-to places to look for anything vintage online are (1) eBay and (2) etsy. But as soon as I decided I needed this print, I was quicky frustrated by lack of inventory and by the high prices. So I did a google search — went to the Images tab — and started going through what was in there. In no time flat, I found an antique store in New York that had a print for sale on their website [print was not on ebay or etsy, though.] I think I paid about $150 including shipping. The piece has a few flea bites, and it’s possible that someday I will invest in a striking frame, but time is money and now I’m blogging about this print and now I have it!

Another three items you can be on the lookout for at estate sales for $10 or $5 or $2 — or at your parents’ or other relatives’ houses!

Who else has one or more of these prints? Which ones?
The Pearl of Wisdom? Drums of the Night? The Fire God?

Categoriestiki and bars
  1. Karin says:

    Oh my, those glowing colourways. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen these Holland prints in Canada.

    The Tretchikoffs were popular here because he had distribution through the now defunct Canadian department store Eaton’s.

    Now that you’ve identified and showcased Holland, I’m sure more prints will come up for sale. You never know.

      1. Jena Lowndes says:

        That may have been me. I bought just the print (and only JUST had it framed in May). Actually, no. I have had it longer than that and got it for a really good price. BUT HERE IS WHAT I WANTED TO SAY. At the base of the print, the title is “The Power Within”.

  2. Cultjam says:

    I actually have all three. I found Drums in the Night on eBay for $10. That’s the rare one, not Fire God.

  3. SusieQT says:

    I have had one of these and eventually sold it on Etsy (you got a good price, Pam 🙂 . The print is on heavy cardboard- if you want to see a shot of the backing, you can go to my sold listing here: [link removed, did not work]

    I think if you wanted to backlight it, you would have to make a good quality copy of the bowl section, then cut it out (the copy; leave the original intact!) and mount it to the original using some sort of spacer. The one I had was quite large, so this might be easily done.

  4. Allison says:

    Interesting! I’ve found one of these online and the seller says it also is on a thickish cardboard-y sort of backing.

    Wonder if that was how these prints were originally sold back in the 70s?

    It might be possible to carefully thin the area behind the figure in order to light it…

  5. Jay says:

    Fascinating print but the perspective is throwing me off, especially the backlit version which makes me wonder if that one is a scrim that lets the light pass through. Would love to know how it was done.
    It’s always a surprise to see what you are going to come up with and present to your readers.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thank you. Now I need to look up “scrim”. It’s always a surprise to see what readers are going to come up with and present to me!

    2. denise says:

      I did a little research to find out more. All that I read was that his prints were made on paper and some on canvas. I’d be interested in knowing how light can shine through.

      He became very well known in later years for his ship and sea paintings. It’s a totally different look, I would never have guessed it would be the same artist.

  6. denise says:

    I will put these on my radar. One never knows what she’ll come across, and I prefer shopping for other people — the thrill of the chase, spending someone else’s money, and it doesn’t end up in my house. LOL I’m putting it out to the Universe…and crossing fingers and toes for you. 😉

  7. Lynne says:

    I’ll start watching for these for you, Pam. I don’t know that Central Illinois is or ever was a Tiki hub, but I’ll keep a look out at the estate sales and thrift stores.

    As an aside, we have a back lit picture of San Francisco in the basement. It is lit with Christmas tree type bulbs. I can send you pictures if you’d like to look at the mechanics of it.

  8. Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Just wanted to say that I really like your working title! Mahalo Lounge sounds like a wonderfully welcoming place to relax with a cocktail.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thank you! Yes, it’s my understanding that ‘Mahalo’ means ‘Thank you’ — so it’s my gratitude lounge!

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