What gives a Gig Poster Value? Time and History.

by Sean Hill

Screen-Shot-2020-05-05-at-7.14.34-PM-203x300 What gives a Gig Poster Value? Time and History.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. Screen-Shot-2020-05-05-at-7.13.45-PM-205x300 What gives a Gig Poster Value? Time and History.

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.

Screen-Shot-2020-05-05-at-7.33.37-PM-204x300 What gives a Gig Poster Value? Time and History.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! Screen-Shot-2020-05-05-at-7.41.09-PM-195x300 What gives a Gig Poster Value? Time and History.

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.

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Rigo Charo June 9, 2020 - 1:49 pm

Hello there, I am interested to know what some of my prints from my collection may be worth. I have a variety, but my treasured ones are my Nirvana prints; although not many but I have researched them and a few seem to be valuable.

Not looking to sell, just want to know their worth in the poster community. I have a very special one of Kurt with a gun that I plan to restore and custom frame it in hopes of letting MoPop borrow it for their Nirvana exhibit; which I have visited.

Here is a link to my small collection:

Thank you,
Rigo Charo

Sean Hill June 9, 2020 - 2:09 pm

Hey Rigo, I can’t really say. Prices can vary widely, and I don’t undertake that so much as writing about the art itself, though I do sometimes come across prices, either on auction sites, or the artist website, or even eBay, each of which gives me a general sense. Looking over your collection, the ones that are the MOST valuable are going to be the ones hand-pulled by the artist, usually the screenprints (your Melvins collection looks to have a lot of those, like the Alfred E. Neumann one) that are signed and numbered. But any reprints or plain lithographs, like the 1995 print of the Doors, are not going to have any value. But original, verifiable posters of the Doors from the 1960’s are certainly going to be worth thousands, I’d guess. I wrote recently on the skeleton/roses Grateful Dead poster I see here, too; that one commanded a huge price because it was by Stanley Mouse, was signed, no damage, and so on. Try search engines with dates, “concert poster,” and see what falls in. That’s how I located some of mine to begin with. As for Nirvana, the one who will ultimately create value will be the Nirvana fan!


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