Rob Petrozzo, one of the founders of Rally, sat down with Glen Trosch, the president of Psychedelic Art Exchange and Jeff Meyer, a great resource for data in all aspects of collecting and Founder of GoCollect, to discuss concert posters as collectibles and the latest high-dollar collectible to appear on Rally. For anyone who is unfamiliar, Rally is a platform for fractional investing in collectibles. That’s everything from dinosaur fossils to rookie cards to comic books to vintage watches, about 25 categories of collectibles currently. You can buy and sell shares in these super-rare items for as low as $10 a share.
On Friday at 10AM EST, Rally will launch its newest category, vintage concert posters. Their first item is a stunning CGC 9.6 FD-26 Grateful Dead Skeleton and Roses poster. On Wed, 10/19, Rally conducted an interview with two industry experts, Glen Trosch and Jeff Meyer, on the state of the collectible concert poster market and what collectors should know before jumping into the hobby.
Jeff, what was the moment you decided that this was a collectible class that really needed your attention? In your eyes, what makes a concert poster of any kind a true collectible?
Jeff: I collect a lot of different things, but I specifically gravitate toward iconic pop culture. The investor in me really likes high-grade items with a deep history. I always look for a consumable product from a moment in time that has mass market appeal for decades to come. If there’s an art component, I love it. If there’s a good history component, I love it. When it comes to concert posters, so many people want to relive earlier days. There’s something about a concert poster that transports you back in time.
In my concert poster research, seeing the pieces getting graded at CGC sparked an interest and within a very small amount of time, I realized how much of a massive affinity to the human audience concert posters are and how they checked the boxes when it comes to collectible vs non-collectible items.
Glen, what makes the aesthetic of the 60s/70s era important?
Glen: That time period, specifically, saw a cultural shift that changed everything from that point forward.
Yes, it was a tumultuous time in American history, but it was also this was the first time that the youth culture was really starting to have an impact. Everything was on the table and taboo subjects were being exposed. This was the time period when the affluence promised from the post-war era really flourished; it was a truly pivotal time.
Jeff, what are some of the catalysts you’ve seen that have driven this market and attracted the influx of new buyers?
Jeff: I’m sure everyone on this platform is aware of the Covid effect on collectibles. We saw a lot of value increases across many different collectible realms in a very short amount of time.
Once those prices started to soar, we saw a bit of buying fatigue from a lot of the existing collectors who were getting priced out of things and many started looking to other markets. All of a sudden, you’ve got investors and collectors looking at concert posters and realizing that they’re a no-brainer. As that has gone on, there’s been a new, high demand for grading and not enough bandwidth to get it done. It’s a great study of supply and demand. There just isn’t enough to go around and it’s created a typical economic boost.
Glen, you have so many different pieces pass through PAE; how do you determine what you want to frame and hold onto or send off to get graded? How do you identify posters that have the potential to be assets?
Glen: Grading and certification changed my whole perspective. For one, historical data can be difficult to obtain. Additionally, it’s a niche product that’s been protected by its collectors for many years.
Another factor is the question of whether or not concert posters are a collectible that has a large enough population to justify certification and grading? Of course, there’s a point where it doesn’t even matter. If it’s a poster with only 10 known copies in existence, then just owning it can be enough.
Also uniquely, the ordinary consequences of restoration that would kill something with a big population are not a negative factor if the poster is one of three. This is the only collectible category that has made that distinction, and I think that’s because of these series that happened in San Francisco in 1966, Bill Graham and Family Dog. There were enough copies printed to give us a spread in quality so that some can step ahead of the pack.
Comic book prices have been making headlines over the past years. Do you see a crossover beginning to happen between comic book and vintage concert poster collectors?
Jeff: It’s happening big time. There are some very prominent comic book collectors that are loving trying to find iconic high-grade posters. The Bindweed Press Collection auction at Heritage proved that. I know a lot about pricing and they were pieces that sold for 2-4x what I was expecting to see.
Glen, because you do both direct sales and auctions at PAE, what trends are you seeing in terms of the most liquid and popular items?
Glen: It’s always driven by personal taste. For example, if you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, you’re going to fight hard for each and every Zeppelin poster.
But what’s come out recently is that pieces from the 80s are beginning to float upward. Punk, New Wave, Blondie, AC/DC, and Talking Heads posters are starting to really crush.
When I started collecting in ’83, the 60s weren’t that far in the rearview mirror. I was driven to concert posters because I was a fan, not because I considered them an investment. In a similar way, the timeline of what’s collectible is definitely getting closer to the present day.
How do I determine when it’s worth having my posters graded?
Jeff: If you look online and you cannot find sales of the poster, I’d get it graded. The collectible community, CGC, they need that information and that art preserved. Sure, f you’re buying it to hang on your wall, grading may reduce the eye appeal. But if you’re noticing clean corners and think it looks minty, it’s an investment. Get that sucker graded.
In your opinion, what is the most important poster of all time?
Glen: That’s a personality test, right there. The most important concert poster of all time may be (although my answer may change) the Elvis tonsil shot. It’s been reproduced a ton, bootlegged all over the place, but I only know of 3 originals in existence. It commercialized his music style. Best psychedelic poster? Acid Test. But of all time? I have to go with Elvis.
Jeff. What’s brilliant about this hobby is how subjective it is. Music is so deep. My top poster is almost definitely different from someone else’s. Even getting it down to a top 10 would be nearly impossible. But I think the FD-26 really makes the era.
Glen: It’s easily identifiable, it speaks to the culture of the time, the music transcends time, and the fact that the lore around it still remains really speaks to the culture.