Here's the third in my series of market predictions for 2023.
It's a category that's popular with many collectors, but one that hasn't quite broken out into the mainstream yet.
And as such, I believe it has the potential for significant growth over the next 12 months and beyond.
Rare original concert posters.
Vintage concert posters are highly collectible. Highly rare. And highly undervalued.
Seriously undervalued. For now...
Rare original concert posters have been popular with collectors for decades.
It's easy to see why.
- They are works of art in their own right.
- They capture an exact time and place in music history.
- They can hold strong memories and inspire nostalgia in collectors.
- And they are almost always exceptionally rare.
As a music fan and a collector myself, I've always loved concert posters.
I've also always suspected they were incredibly undervalued.
The hobby has always been regarded as a little 'niche' for many mainstream investors.
But it seems the market is starting to catch up, and I believe 2023 could be a breakout moment.
By that, I mean original concert posters will become more widely accepted as valuable assets.
Collectors from other areas will begin pursuing rare posters for the first time.
And HNWIs will decide to add a high-grade poster or two to their portfolio of rare collectibles.
This incredibly rare 1953 Hank Williams poster, for the show he died on the way to, sold in 2021 for a record $150,000. (Image: Heritage Auctions)
Record sales. Headline news.
The five most valuable posters of all-time have all sold within the past two years.
And in 2022 the world record price for a concert poster was smashed twice.
Such high-profile sales achieve two important things.
1) They bring new rare posters to the market.
Often these examples have been stored away for decades, preserved by the original owners who never previously considered them particularly valuable - until they saw the headlines and dollar signs.
2) They bring new collectors into the hobby.
HNWIs – particularly those with a passion for music - realise rare posters are a safe and potentially profitable place to store their wealth. And what was once considered an indulgent purchase now becomes viewed as a sound investment.
This wider awareness increases demand, which in turn increases prices.
A quick way to illustrate this significant rise is with a poster considered one of the hobby's holy grails:
An original poster for The Beatles' 1966 concert at Shea Stadium.
This original 1966 Beatles Shea Stadium poster sold at Heritage Auctions last year for a record $275,000.
(Image: Heritage Auctions)
The really Fab Four
Until 2019, only 4 – 5 examples of this poster were known to exist.
They were the "rarest of the rare". Most dealers and collectors had never even seen one, let alone owned one.
And then... lift-off.
In November 2019 a copy set a new auction record when it sold at Heritage Auctions for $125,000.
In April 2020 a second copy sold at Heritage for $137,500.
In November 2021 a third sold for $150,000.
And in April 2022 another example sold for $275,000, setting a world-record price for any concert poster at auction.
All four were fresh to the market. That record-breaking first sale in 2019 brought the following three examples out of the woodwork.
And the value more than doubled in the space of two and-a-half years.
The flurry of activity surprised everyone. As Pete Howard, Director of rare poster consignments at Heritage put it:
"The hobby's never seen anything quite like this. It's clearly a domino effect in action, and yet each time we've rightfully said, 'Well, that's probably the last one for a few years.'...
"The consignors are simply reacting to the strong market for this poster and concert posters in general, and deciding now is the time to sell."
You could say exactly the same thing about the buyers as well.
This classic 1966 Grateful Dead 'Skeleton and Roses' poster is perhaps the most famous of the 60s psychedelic era. (Image: Heritage Auctions)
Dylan & The Dead
Another great example of the rising market is one of the most iconic vintage concert posters of all-time:
A 1966 Grateful Dead 'Skeleton & Roses' poster for two concerts at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.
According to Howard, “this poster's popularity and value is soaring like a piece of fine European art.”
In August 2018 a near-mint condition copy sold at auction for $50,600.
And in April 2022 another near-mint example sold for a record $137,500.
That's a 172% increase in value in less than four years.
Other major sales in 2022 included:
• A unique Bob Dylan poster for his landmark 1963 show at Town Hall in New York, with doodles from Dylan himself, which sold for $68,750.
• A 1966 Velvet Underground / Andy Warhol poster for a 'happening' in Los Angeles, which sold for $45,000.
• And a highly rare 1949 Billie Holiday poster for a show in Sacramento, California which sold for $36,250.
These results were all record prices for the respective posters.
And that points to a market on the up.
These original Bob Dylan and Billie Holiday posters both achieved remarkable results in 2022.
(Images: Heritage Auctions)
One of the main strengths of the concert poster market is the huge rarity of original posters.
These were thin sheets of paper posted up outside on walls and telephone poles, or in venues and store windows.
They were never meant to last more than a few weeks. Most of them didn't.
So when you compare the population of rare concert posters to other valuable pop culture artefacts, the difference can be enormous...
The world's most valuable sports card is the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card. There are approximately 1,800 examples known to survive.
The record price for a copy is $12.6 million.
The world's most valuable comic book is currently Superman #1, published in 1938. There are 165 copies known to exist in various conditions.
The record price for a copy is $5.3 million.
And then we have the blockbuster sale of 2022. The result that completely shattered the world record price for a rare concert poster.
A poster so important it was described simply as “a Smithsonian piece”.
The world's rarest and most valuable music poster - for 'The Day the Music Died'. (Image: Heritage Auctions)
The only one in the world
The world's most valuable concert poster - and perhaps the most significant - is a Buddy Holly Winter Dance Party poster.
It's a poster for a show in Minnesota on February 3, 1959. Famously known as 'The Day the Music Died'.
Holly and his tour mates Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were on their way to the show when their plane tragically crashed.
There's only one example known to survive.
And in November 2022 it sold at Heritage for $447,000. It's the world's most valuable concert poster by a clear margin.
But despite the truly historic nature of the poster, the iconic artists featured on it, and the fact it's the only one of its kind...
It still sold for a fraction of those other pop culture collector's items.
That's why I believe the concert poster market has a lot further to grow.
The potential is there to acquire some of the world's rarest pop culture artefacts, at prices far lower than comparable pieces in other categories.
Record results over the past 12 months suggest collectors and investors are waking up to this idea.
And I predict 2023 could be a banner year.I'll be bringing you another market tip for 2023 next week - so don't forget to check your inbox.
And as always, if you have any questions about rare autographs or historic memorabilia, please feel free to get in touch.
Email me at email@example.com.
Or call me on +44 (0) 117 933 9500.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for reading,