Has John Lennon met his match in Mick Jagger for memorabilia?
We look at why the size of the Rolling Stones memorabilia market could match even The Beatles
This week, in July 1965, The Rolling Stone's hit the top of the U.S. Singles Chart with the song "I can't get No Satisfaction." The single catapulted the Stones to worldwide success, which has since seen them score eight consecutive number one albums in the United States as well as record sales of 200 million worldwide, putting them in the all time top 10 best selling artists.
Today, the Rolling Stone's continue to tour and release albums with Keith Richards somehow still very much alive and well. But for many, it's the world of collectible memorabilia, dating back to the heyday of the group, that gives collectors and fans the most "satisfaction."
According to the PFC Autograph Index, which details the 2000 - 2010 price performance of 40 of the most sought-after celebrity autographs, a signed photograph of the Rolling Stones has increased significantly in value over the past decade.
In the year 2000, according to the Index, a signed photograph could be purchased for £995 (1,500). Today, a signed photograph is worth £5,500 ($8,300), an increase of 452.8% in the value of the signature.
The Rolling Stones have released 24 studio albums in a career spanning nearly 50 years. While this obviously equates to a lot of completed tours and music recordings, more importantly, from a collector's point of view, it has helped to create a vast market of rare memorabilia.
This is good news for collectors, whatever their budgetary constraints. Traditional fan memorabilia remains a popular source for Rolling Stones collectors and offers a relatively low-cost entry into the market.
For instance, a jacket from the Rolling Stone's 1981 tour was sold for £216 ($330) at an auction in 2006, while a complete set of "The Rolling Stones Book" fan club magazines sold for £384 ($581). Yet the sheer depth and variety of the Rolling Stones memorabilia market means that some personal items dating back to the 1960s can even be found for under £1,000 ($1,500).
For instance, six unpublished black and white photographs of the Rolling Stones onstage at St George's Hall in Bradford on May 14, 1964 recently sold for £600 ($800) at auction.
Alternatively, collectors looking for a more personal investment piece may find one of the many notes written by members of the Rolling Stones an ideal purchase. In a 2008 auction in Knightsbridge, London a handwritten and signed note from Mick Jagger himself sold for £240 ($320) on the auction block.
Unique autographed items are also available to collectors. At one auction, a cymbal signed by the Rolling Stones was sold for £900 ($1,200) - a very unique, if not potentially noisy, collectible.
As we move up the market though, it would seem that collectors also like the sound of signed Rolling Stones LPs as a viable investment.
A 1969, autographed copy of the rare "Promotional Album" which was signed by all five members and is one of only 400 printed, sold for £1,440 ($2,200); while an autographed copy of 1964 "The Rolling Stones" album sold for £2,280 ($3450).
Alternatively, a Rolling Stone's collector might wish to invest in one of the many pieces of artwork that adorned the 24 studio albums they have produced to date.
In an auction last month, one bidder took home the rare original artwork from the cover of the classic 1974 LP "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" for £1,320 ($2,000).
Artist Guy Peellaert, fresh from the million selling success of his pop culture illustrations book "Rock Dreams," created the iconic image.
Described in 1974, by Elle Magazine as the "Michelangelo of Pop Art" he would go on to enjoy success with the cover design for David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" LP and then later with the posters to the films "Paris, Texas", "Short Cuts" and "Taxi Driver."
Yet, better still from a collectors point of view, was the Andy Warhol-produced "Love You Live" LP Screen print - one of 24 produced on white vinyl in 1977 to mark the release of the album which sold for £1,200 ($1,600) at auction.
More traditional band memorabilia is also available on the market. An autographed Rolling Stones Portrait Poster from 1964, signed by all five members, was sold for just £1,020($1,545) at auction.
And for further 60s nostalgia, an autographed Rolling Stones publicity card, featuring a black and white image of the band and signed by all five members sold for £1,560 ($2350).
These cards date back to the original line up of the band and have been greatly sought-after following the subsequent death of notorious founding member Brian Jones. A collection of correspondence between Jones and a fan called Martha during the group's early heyday was put up for sale in Los Angeles in 2007.
The letters - consigned by Martha herself - were sold with a copy of an official magazine, The Rolling Stones Book, signed by Jones. In the correspondence, Jones wrote:
"Yes, I remember meeting Terry, and he did stay with me for a while, but I don't know where he is now. I think he went back to America, I'm not sure..." - Brian Jones in his letter to Martha, a fan
The letters were sold in their original transmittal envelopes with relative postmarks for £2,200 ($3,300).
Much of the 1960s memorabilia relating to the Rolling Stones has been some of the most popular at auction in recent years. 2005 saw the sale of a copy of 1960s magazine, Rave, signed by the group's original line up, including Brian Jones, sell for £4,650 ($7,050.)
Part of what makes The Rolling Stones such an enduring group is the phenomenal live shows they have been putting together for over 45 years. Their most recent "A Bigger Bang" Tour grossed a record total of approximately £368,000,000 ($558,000,000) , surpassing the previous record of £222,000,000($377,000,000) earned by Irish stadium rockers U2.
Furthermore, 2006 saw them cement their world wide status, with a concert to 250,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is therefore of little surprise to find memorabilia linked to these shows priced at the higher end of the collectibles investment market.
A 274cm (9ft) square backdrop used during the 1995 "Voodoo Lounge" tour, signed by the then-four members of the Stones, sold for £4,800 ($7,200) at auction. Some of the most sought-after pieces of memorabilia also relate to specific gigs, dating back to the band's early days.
A rare poster from a Rolling Stones performance at Queen's Hall in Leeds in July 1964 sold for £7,800 ($11,800). Even greater still, a concert poster for a performance at The Gaumont in Hanley from September 1964 was auctioned for an incredible £10,200 ($15,400).
Yet if you can't get your hands on a piece of memorabilia from these special concerts, then why not look to get something from the actual show itself - and what could be better than a guitar?
At the low end of the market, a red Galveston electric guitar, signed by five members of the Stones, sold for £1,180 ($1,793) in 2006. A year earlier in Las Vegas, an auction had witnessed the sale of the more impressive Fender Telecaster electric guitar, again signed by five members with Keith Richards adding the personalisation of "it's only rock 'n' roll" in reference to their classic song.
Outside of the Rolling Stones, front man and icon Mick Jagger carries the greatest amount of clout in terms of memorabilia value.
A semi acoustic guitar belonging to Jagger sold for £7,200 ($10,000) at auction in 2004. The guitar was used in Jagger's Golden Globe winning work with Dave Stewart for the film soundtrack "Alfie" and also tracks on the "Bigger Bang" Rolling Stones album.
Mick Jagger was a style icon of the 1960s, and it's this status which has helped to drive demand for collectibles related to himself and the Rolling Stones.
The most unique memorabilia piece to date must be the 1967 jacket owned by Jagger that was sold 2005. Decorated with dragons, pagodas and various oriental motifs, along with striped lining and an inside pocket labelled "Hung On You a Londres," the jacket was auctioned alongside a picture of Mick Jagger wearing it, and sold for £10,800 ($16,300).
Mick Jagger's status as a style icon was truly cemented through his work with Andy Warhol. It's therefore of little surprise that their collaboration, on two Andy Warhol paintings, are found at the high end of the collectibles market, due to their cross cultural appeal to celebrity, music and art fans alike.
In a 2005 San Francisco and Los Angeles auction, one of the Mick Jagger paintings created by Warhol, sold for £13,300 ($19,975). Two years later, the same painting sold at a similar auction for £26,000 ($39,000.) The value of this collectible had increased by over 100% in just two years. At this same auction, another of the Warhol Jagger paintings sold for £26,000 ($39,000.)
The depth and variety of memorabilia available to Rolling Stones collectors is truly unique.
Whether your interest in Stones memorabilia focuses on posters, artwork, LPs, instruments, autographs or even fashion, there is something out there for you to invest your money and passion in.
Furthermore, the next decade could see a significant change in the value of Rolling Stones memorabilia, particularly if we compare these to the values attached to Beatles memorabilia.
Of the four Beatles, two have passed away while both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr now refuse to sign autographs.
In comparison, the Rolling Stones are still touring, recording and in the case of Keith Richards, even able to make bizarre cameo appearances in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. If any member of the group were to die, prices could shoot up, if the Beatles are any example to go by.
According to the PFC Autograph Index, in 2000, John Lennon's autograph on a piece of card would be worth £695 (£1,050). Ten years on, this same autograph is worth £5,950 ($8,960), an increase of 756.1%.
There is little doubt that the death of John Lennon, has made memorabilia connect to his life and the Beatles, rarer and thus more valuable. In the top ten world record prices for celebrity memorabilia, Lennon currently occupies the top two spots. In 2000, George Michael paid £1,400,000 ($2,100,000) for the famous Steinway piano used to write the song "Imagine," whilst the record remains with Canadian businessman Jim Pattison, who paid £1,500,000 ($2,230,000) for John Lennon's famous hand painted Rolls Royce Phantom V.
While Lennon was arguably one of the most popular members of the Beatles, it is in fact George Harrison's autograph that has seen the biggest value increase in the last decade. In 2000, a signed photo was worth £195 ($295), but today is worth £2,250 ($3,390), an increase of 1053.8%
If we compare the prices for similar memorabilia, a sign used on July 10th 1964, to greet the Beatles at Speke Airport for the premier of A Hard Day's Night went up for sale, reading:
"In the interests of public safety, The Blenheim Lounge will be closed to the public from approximately 4.0 p.m. to 6.0 p.m. on this day. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause,"
Containing all four of the band member's signatures, the sign auctioned for a price of £19,800 (£29,800). When you consider that a similar piece of 1960s signed memorabilia from the Rolling Stones would only currently fetch 25 - 50% of that price, any development in the health and line up of the group could have a significant impact on the value of collectibles signed by the entire band.
If anything were to happen to band leaders Mick Jagger or Keith Richards, we could see further value changes similar to those witnessed with John Lennon and George Harrison.
With the potential for development with the next ten years, now could be a good time to look towards Rolling Stones collectibles.
Furthermore, the vast market also offers investment opportunities for a wide range of budgets, from a couple of hundred pounds to thousands. When it comes to Rolling Stone's collectibles, if you start it up, you may indeed never stop.
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Images: Christie's, Bonhams