Apart from making some great country-rock in the 1970s and having one of the biggest-ever selling albums of all times with their Greatest Hits, the Eagles are an object lesson in marketing.
Since their re-formation, they’ve toured periodically, packing arenas although their ticket prices have been high, and creating merchandise in the form of tee shirts, mugs, all manner of things geared for their middle-aged audience. Along the way they’ve managed to make themselves very rich.
Quite cleverly, too, they’ve let very little personal memorabilia slip out onto the market. What you’re going to find, for the most part, are items like posters, tickets, and backstage passes. Most desirable are those from the group’s first incarnation in the 1970s, when they toured extensively.
What to AvoidQuite simply, avoid most of the Eagles memorabilia that you see. Those framed presentation albums really aren’t memorabilia at all, just someone trying to make money out of the Eagles’ fame. Much the same applies to the sets of Eagles plectrums, again carefully framed and in a limited edition. The only way they’re worth anything is if they were used on tour – and a single, authentic tour plectrum is liable to cost about £25.
The same applies to tee shirts. Those from the reunion tours have no value at all to collectors, since they were produced and sold in such quantities (it’s possible they might be worth something in about 20 years, however). There are plenty of reproduction shirts, but very, very few vintage ones.
What to Look ForIdeally, go for hand signed items, if you can find them. They’re few and far between, such as a Joe Walsh cancelled cheque (a mere £60) or a signed guitar, offered by a dealer for £1,750 – which is a reasonable bargain, although it’s not been played by any of them, so you’re really just paying for the autographs.
There’s a small market in Eagles songbooks. Dealers carry them, but your best bet is to check on eBay. However, expect to pay in the region of £30 for one in reasonable condition.
Old tickets will cost in the £25-50 range, concert handbills around twice that (more for Joe Walsh solo gigs), but it’s the posters that bring in the higher prices, up to £400, depending on the rarity and the show.
Again, that’s not an outrageous amount, by any means. But at present the Eagles aren’t deemed to be among the most collectable bands, in part because they’re still actively touring, and music buffs don’t rate their work that highly (however, can millions of fans be wrong?)
Where to BuySmaller auction houses, especially those selling online, deal in Eagles memorabilia. But you won’t find anything with the major auction houses – there’s simply not enough money in it to be worth their while. Dealers are the most likely outlets, especially for posters and printed matter.
Eagles’ memorabilia might prove to be a good investment, but only over the long term. It’ll take quite a few years before they come up for a critical reappraisal, and only after that might they be considered very collectable and desirable (indeed, the odds are that they will be).