Concert-poster collecting has proven to be a lucrative investment as well as a great hobby. It’s very common to see the rarest and most interesting posters to sell for five figures at auction or in private sales.
History of Concert Posters
Concert posters originally were hung on phone poles or in box office windows to advertise specific shows. They feature art photos and lettering very connected to the time period in which they were printed. Before the late '80s, posters hardly ever were saved after the event happened. The ones that were have become desirable collectibles that preserve specific moments in time.
How do you start a collection?
There are three general types of collections people try to put together.
Series or Venue-Based Collections
The first one is trying to collect all the posters in a series or from a venue. For example the BG Fillmore Series are numbered posters made for events at San Francisco’s Fillmore theater. Another example is the Kaleidoscope series, a run of round posters advertising events at Los Angeles’ Kaleidoscope Theater. Many people try to collect a local venue where they themselves saw a lot of shows.
The second type is a collection of any poster from any event a specific band played at. These collections are for true fans and involve a lot of research on tour dates, etc.
A third type of collection is based on a specific artist's poster work. If you love Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Russ Gibb or Victor Moscoso, you're in luck: They all were prolific in rock poster art. You can even find hand-drawn original poster art by many of these artists, since all the art was done by hand until the late 1990s.
Collecting posters created before the late 1980s can be tricky, due to their original intended use as disposable advertising. Some posters have been re-printed as collectibles; the reprints are worth less money than the originals. It is very important to trust your seller AND do your research.
Condition also determines value. Here are some basic tips to help you out:
• Pay very close attention to an item's conditional description.
• When purchasing a poster online, use the zoom and pan features (if your seller has one on their Web site) to examine any flaws. A mint-condition concert poster from the 1960s is extremely rare.
• Be wary the level of damage a poster has if your goal is eventual resale.
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