What are the values of posters today? It may depend on a number of factors. Consider the classic Led Zeppelin concert poster for the 1969 Fillmore shows. It’s an avocado. It’s a funny avocado. It’s also a near mint $890 avocado.
According to Wolfgang’s, where this print is being sold (as well as few later editions, decreasing steadily in price the newer they are), this roughly 14″ by 20″ poster was made by artist Randy Tuten who wanted to avoid the famous Led Zeppelin blimp. And so, an avocado with eyes. The first printing, the website explains, was printed before the concert on a machine finish “grid pattern” stock. A 2nd edition, a bit larger and made after the concert, is available for way less: only $143, despite being mint. First editions matter.
When Tuten made this poster, he was 23 years old and had been working for Bill Graham (and of course his name, too, adds to the value here) for only a few months. He went on to work for Graham for five decades. His name is synonymous with gig poster art.
And it’s not just those points that make it epic. It’s that fact that Led Zeppelin went from an opening act to a headliner in only a matter of months.
The Moment as Value
So will we have to wait fifty years to achieve such a value? Let’s look at a Pearl Jam poster from 1993.
This mint poster, 13″ by 19″ and created by Chris Shaw, who was educated at the California College of Arts and Crafts and has made many posters for big 90’s acts, is valued at $102.
A very different poster, this a 2003 poster by artist Craig Howell in mint condition of the Foo Fighters is a whopping $859. Why the difference? Is it the band? Or perhaps the association with the Fillmore, even though it’s in Denver?
Another 1990’s artist, Derek Hess, made this signed, first printing for Soul Coughing in 1995, a gritty image, and for a small venue in Cleveland, nonetheless. Still, it’s priced at $300. It’s a big poster, roughly 22″ by 33″, and there’s also the fact his work has been displayed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…and the Louvre!
What Gives It Value
So what is the bottom line? When buying a gig poster, one does it for a number of reasons. For me, I buy it because I am particular about owning posters for shows I went to. But I do consider, too, a number of things that history proves.
Some points to consider 1. The poster artist, 2. The band, 3. The venue. When taken together, these things really constitute a moment of time, and this is what people most want to own, I think. When taken into consideration, we can see why certain posters seem to best exemplify a moment in time, whether it’s a show at the Fillmore, or Woodstock (the original, maybe not so much the 90’s version, or Lollapalooza, especially the first one). These are times that pass on like a memory of a holiday. And it is that moment that people most value.
And if the moment is really worth something to you, invest in it. You may find that other people will be willing to invest in it, too.