Is Kraftwerk memorabilia worth investing in?

Last year the UK's Observer newspaper stated: "No other band since the Beatles has given so much to pop culture".

So why, in spite of their role as one of the most innovative and influential bands of the 20th century, does memorabilia pertaining to Kraftwerk not realise higher prices?

Emerging from the ashes of post-war, pre-unification Germany, a new generation looked to the future to distance themselves from the horror of the past.

Defined by a relentless 4/4 beat (referred to as motorik), the music that soundtracked that era, popularly known as krautrock or comische, took elements of jazz, rock and classical and merged them into something else entirely.

Kraftwerk live Dusseldorf
Kraftwerk pictured performing in Dusseldorf in 2013

Kraftwerk, founded in 1970, became its most successful purveyors. In subsequent years they sold millions of albums worldwide, were sampled by countless artists and more recently performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.

It was their sinewy pulse and simple, elegant songs that laid the blueprint for modern dance music.

Despite this, the market for memorabilia pertaining to them remains sleepy.

The highest sum achieved for a piece of Kraftwerk memorabilia at auction was set in 2006, when the handmade vocoder used on Ralf & Florian and the introduction to Autobahn made $12,500 on eBay.

This contrasts significantly with instruments sold by other bands of similar influence, such as a guitar played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead that made $238,500 in December 2013, and another guitar owned by the Cure's Robert Smith that hammered for £27,500 ($45,000) at Bonhams London.

Kraftwerk vocoder eBay
This handmade vocoder sold for $12,500 in 2006

An autograph from drummer Karl Bartos made $122 in a recent eBay sale. Rare vinyl is popular yet inexpensive by leading standards, with a first UK coloured pressing of their self-titled album from 1972 achieving £255 ($415) earlier this month.

Similarly, an original poster from the Man Machine era made $355, also on eBay.

There is plenty of significant Kraftwerk memorabilia out there which has yet to arrive on the private market. The band are famously reclusive, and to date there has been no consignment of stage worn costumes or other significant ephemera. When this happens, we could see interest increase, and with it values.

Up to a point. Ultimately it seems that, despite their unparalleled contribution to the field of popular music, memorabilia pertaining to Kraftwerk is likely to remain a niche concern.

It appears the band may simply lack the popular appeal of the most collectible artists - reducing the size of the buying market.

It may produce a small profit over time but, in this case, the pleasure of collecting is likely to remain its own reward.

View our music memorabilia for sale here.

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