Vintage Burton Snowboards

November 10, 2011 4 min read 123 Comments

Jake Burton Carpenter
Jake Burton Carpenter
We have collected and sold dozens of vintage Burton snowboards over the years.  From the vintage Burton Backhill's and Backyards to the vintage Burton Performer's in the mid 1980's we've seen them all.  Currently we loan out our collection to educational institutions and museums free of charge.  We also have a program for private parties to rent our exhibits.  If you are looking to sell you board we are here to help.  If you are looking to buy click here.     

The Early Days
While there are numerous arguments as to who actually created the first snowboard, not many disagree that it was Jake Burton Carpenter who truly developed and pioneered the sport on a national and global level.  Starting manufacturing in 1977, Jake and his company merely capitalized on the idea of sliding on snow for entertainment.  Many inventors throughout the years have developed versions of the modern day snowboard.  In 1926 Howard J. Ferris patented a stand up sled named the Skeeboggan.  Others followed in his footsteps and most notably Sherman Poppen patented the Snurfer in 1965.  He later partnered with Brunswick (yes the bowling company) to market his product.  They decided to distribute the Snurfers to thousands of hardware stores throughout the country.  While Sherm sold over half a million Snurfers, he never fully realized the Snurfer's true potential.  Had Brunswick distributed Snurfers to sporting goods stores, who knows how snowboarding history would be written.  Believe it or not the Harvard business school used Sherm's Snurfer misfortune to teach what not to do.  

It is said Jake Burton Carpenter was inspired by the Snurfers he rode as a teenager.  Like many innovators Jake never seemed satisfied; always trying to improve on his designs.  All through high school and college he tinkered with his inventions and finally after quitting his job at a Manhattan investment bank in 1977, he got a break that ultimately founded Burton Snowboards; an inheritance from his grandmother of $20,000.  As for the reasons he quit..."I wasn't loving it," he recalled "But I got to talk to the entrepreneurs whose businesses we were selling. I was amazed that they didn't intimidate me. I remember … thinking, 'This isn't any tougher than the lawn-mowing business I started in high school.'" 

Jake, now 23 years old, with his degree in economics and his newly acquired bank roll, moved to Stratton Mountain, Vermont to work nights as a bartender and days on his snowboards.  100+ designs were created from wood and various laminated materials before he settled on a marketable product.  Only problem, it was now summer and no one wanted to buy.  Jake's perseverance is what saved his dream of not only creating a truly superior product, but also inventing the sport in the first place.  

Vintage Burton Snowboard Catalog c. 1979-80.
Vintage Burton Snowboard Catalog c. 1979-80.

The following winter he took a hiatus in Europe to ride the glaciers of Austria.  His head now cleared, he returned with an increased vigor that seemingly never slowed.  He spent the winter season of 1978-79 peddling his product at various trade shows all throughout the country.  Jake recalled, "I was afraid to go to the bathroom, I thought if I did, I might miss my only customer."  Throughout the winter he sold over 300 boards, attributed to his new marketing campaign (which by the way included a 'mail-order' department whose telephone rang in Jake's bedroom).  In the end he was still in the red, spending more money than he was taking in.  Never one to rest Jake took it to the next level and decided to gain product awareness by winning a national Snurfer competition.  After convincing race directors to allow him to use his own board in an 'open division', Jake took the crown and turned the corner for his struggling business.  After seeing Jake dominate the competition not one rider wanted to compete ever again with their $10 Snurfers (sorry Sherm).  

1980's and Beyond
Jake limped along throughout the 1979-80 winter season with just over 700 boards sold.  Although this was double his previous years sales, he was still operating in the red in 1981 with financial losses adding up to $130,000.  Jake was not alone in his struggles to grow the sport and he along with others finally pushed the envelope with advances in technology that spurred the soon to be, fastest growing sport in the country. By 1984 Jake with his newly developed metal edge snowboards broke $1,000,000 in sales finally realizing the profit he deserved.  It is noted to vintage Burton snowboard collectors that Jake changed his name in 1984 from Jake Burton Carpenter to simply Jake Burton to avoid confusion.  

The golden break began at Vermont's Stratton ski resort, who became the first in the country to allow snowboarders to ride its slopes (thanks to Burton's efforts).  Slowly by surly other resorts followed suit.  In 1985, 93% of the ski areas in the U.S. had banned snowboarding, by 1995 over 90% not only allowed it but catered to snowboarders with specific marketing campaigns aimed at gaining their business.

Jake's momentum increased yet again with the opening of a manufacturing plant in Innsbruck Austria in 1985.  From there on out sales rose on an exponential level realizing over 100,000 snowboarders by 1987.    

If you have any questions about vintage Burton snowboards send us an email and we will gladly get back to you.

Vintage Burton Backhill Prototype Snowboard c. 1977
Vintage Burton Backhill Prototype Snowboard c. 1977
Vintage Burton Prototype Snowboard c. 1978
Vintage Burton Prototype Snowboard c. 1978
Vintage Burton Londonderry Snowboard c. 1979
Vintage Burton Londonderry Snowboard c. 1979

 

Vintage Burton Backhill BBI Snowboard c. 1980
Vintage Burton Backhill BBI Snowboard c. 1980
Vintage Burton Backhill Backyard Snowboard c. 1981
Vintage Burton Backhill Backyard Snowboard c. 1981
Vintage Burton Backhill Backyard Snowboard c. 1982
Vintage Burton Backhill Backyard Snowboard c. 1982
Vintage Burton Powdergun Performer Snowboard c. 1983
Vintage Burton Powdergun Performer Snowboard c. 1983
Vintage Burton Performer Snowboard c. 1984
Vintage Burton Performer Snowboard c. 1984
Vintage Burton Performer Elite Snowboard c. 1985
Vintage Burton Performer Elite Snowboard c. 1985
Vintage Burton Cruiser Elite Snowboard c. 1986
Vintage Burton Cruiser Elite Snowboard c. 1986
Vintage Burton Woody 145 Snowboard c. 1987
Vintage Burton Woody 145 Snowboard c. 1987
Vintage Burton Air Safari Snowboard c. 1988
Vintage Burton Air Safari Snowboard c. 1988
Vintage Burton Craig Kelley Mystery Air Snowboard c. 1989
Vintage Burton Craig Kelley Mystery Air Snowboard c. 1989
Vintage Burton Craig Kelley Mystery Air Snowboard c. 1990
Vintage Burton Craig Kelley Mystery Air Snowboard c. 1990
Vintage Burton M Series Snowboard c. 1991
Vintage Burton M Series Snowboard c. 1991

Article by © Vintage Winter


23 Responses

Craig
Craig

August 06, 2013

I have a 1987 first edition burton air snowboard only been used twice. Can’t find the bindings though. I see its number 1 on many wanted lists for collectors. What’s it worth and does anyone want to buy it?

Dick Tosi
Dick Tosi

August 04, 2013

I have a 1985 Elite board in mint condition along with an original brochure that I am interested in selling. I have no idea what it is worth. Bindings fell apart and are ng.

jessie
jessie

July 28, 2013

I have a kemper freestyle155 kevlar reinforced I guess from 1990 neon and purple grafix does anyone know some history and value or point in the direction.

jessie
jessie

July 28, 2013

I have a kemper freestyle155 kevlar reinforced I guess from 1990 neon and purple grafix does anyone know some history and value or point in the direction.

Harold Minerd
Harold Minerd

July 16, 2013

I have a mint condition snurfer. Decals read US Official Super Racing Model. Has original rope.I believe it to be a mid 1960’s. I would like to sell it. If anyone interested please email me at minerdharold@yahoo.com and I will send a picture. Or if your just curios about it please let me know because I would appreciate any info too. I don’t know how to date it. Board is in absolute mint condition. Appears to never have been ridden. Thanks guys! Awesome site! I live in Anchorage AK. Darn, I threw out old wooden ski’s and poles. I had no idea people collect this stuff until visiting this site.

jeff patterson
jeff patterson

June 21, 2013

love all the info – seems many looking to see boards as well. Judt read of alex bareiss backhill. I am looking for one, if anyone is selling jeffp@sbcmedia.com

alex bareiss
alex bareiss

June 17, 2013

I have a vintage burton backhill snowboard # u – 2653, shaped by aj. would love to know more about it. it is in great shape and has all the original odd bindings. more like a 2 footed water ski would have. it has been used but very little. thanks, alex

Joshua Creamer
Joshua Creamer

April 22, 2013

I have a 1984 Burton Performer board, I am looking to sell. Email me if you are interested!

Richard Crunkilton
Richard Crunkilton

April 10, 2013

I am looking for a burton factory prime 5.7 or 5.9 asym. in good riding condition. i f anyone knows where to look or someone has to sell please email me.

Bill Hertz
Bill Hertz

April 08, 2013

I have a 1984 Burton Performer in good condition #5853R. It is fully functional and I would like to sell it. It has some normal wear and tear from use in the 80’s but is in good condition. Let me know.

scott
scott

March 19, 2013

I have what i think is a 1984 burton backhill in excellent condition. Email me if interested in purchasing

brett amen
brett amen

January 25, 2013

I have and currenrly ride a 1995 158 flying V burton twin and will until the day i snap it. I would love to get my hands on another. Could u possibly point me in the right direction. Thanks and have a good ride.

Andre
Andre

January 06, 2013

I have a 1984 Burton Performer, curious what the value is?

John Clark
John Clark

December 30, 2012

I have a vintage Burton Powdergun Performer I have had in my garage for years. I have not rode it since the late 80’s. I am interested in finding out what it may be worth. How can I go about getting an estimate of its value? Thanks

Jim Ferrall
Jim Ferrall

December 27, 2012

I purchased my first Burton SnowBoard in 1979 in Madison, WI at Petrie Sports….saved up $65 for it. Took it to Tyrol Ski Basin in Mt Horeb, WI and they would not let me on the hill…they did not know what it was. I ended up learning by taking it to Glenway Golf Course in Madison which had some steeper hills. I just read the story that this exact board in mint condition sold for 11K. WOW….making me feel old that it is considered vintage. I kind of feel like a pioneer knowing I was cruising one of the very first boards!

Laura Kline
Laura Kline

November 19, 2012

I have a 1995 Burton Twin 47. I noticed they have re-released this board. Are the originals worth anything?

Jillian
Jillian

November 14, 2012

I have a vintage board listed on craigslist that is a burton elite 150. I am located near evansvile indiana or owesboro kentucky but might be willing to ship. Look it up under either of these cities and give me a call or email.

Chad
Chad

October 10, 2012

I just came across a Woody, 135 in my attic. It’s in mint condition, and the numbers on it are (387 100479). I’m not selling it, but just curious to see how much it’s worth-i.g., should I hang it up, or throw it back in the attic?
Thanks

Dave rice
Dave rice

September 02, 2012

I have a vintage burton backhill snowboard reg.#479 not sure of the year, signed by shaper bob Novak. I’m interested in selling can it is in good shape swallow tail. Can you tell me the worth and year. Thanks

Fay
Fay

August 24, 2012

I bought a 1984 burton snow bored at a estate sake for 5 bucks, it’s in mint condition it has the bindings everything mint! Can you tell me how much this is worth or a idea of how much it could be worth? Thank you

Jan Harper
Jan Harper

February 14, 2012

Close to mint 1985 Burton Performer
I rode it twice with snowshoes on my back to get back up the hill. Had no fun at all and parked it in my closet. Bindings have fallen apart from bad plastic formula.

Charlie
Charlie

January 02, 2012

I have two boards from the 80s hanging on my wall i am looking to sell, a performer and ill check the other. email me if interested and ill send pics and info along.

Michael Thompson
Michael Thompson

December 30, 2011

Hello, I just came across your site and loved it! I am wondering if you have for sale or know how I could get my hands on an old 1980’s Burton Board?? PLEASE!! I am a huge collector and had a few from the 80’s, my favorite being 1982, the year I was born. But my storage unit was robbed and I lost EVERYTHING I own, my entire life GONE! let alone over $50,000 in STUFF I lost my board and sticker and gear collections. More gear than Shawn White I promise!! And well over 20 boards, some never released some not even released at the time. Like the Method I got the year before it came out. Please let me know if you could help me start over and own my dream again. One of Burtons vintage boards. PLEASE!! I want to be able to hand it down to my daughter!

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