The late 1960s might have been the golden age of concert poster art but there are plenty of posters from the 1970s that are equally collectable. That’s particularly true for the big names of the decade, such as the Beatles in their solo careers, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and the early punk era.
Of course, there were many more artists achieving success during the 1970s, which simply increases the volume available. But concert posters were still generally considered disposable advertising, meaning that not so many have survived.
For the major artists, there have been reproductions of concert posters made (notably the Knebworth concerts featuring Zeppelin), some of which are legitimately sold as reprints, and others which people try to pass off as originals (such as Zeppelin in London in 1975). This is a market you need to research before jumping into it.
Cheaper PostersIt’s perfectly possible to buy authentic vintage posters in the £100-200 range – very affordable, unlikely to lose their value, and quite possibly something that will bring you a small return if you choose to sell them later.
Curiously, it’s artists more on the progressive end of the spectrum who generally achieve the lower prices, such as Frank Zappa or even Pink Floyd (some of their concert posters are surprisingly cheap). But even some of the biggest mainstream artists of the decade have concert posters that go for only a little money, like Fleetwood Mac. Even a poster advertising a concert by Bruce Springsteen managed to make a little over £100 at auction, and he’s a very collectable 1970s artist.
Even the individual Beatles, with the exception of Lennon, can’t reach the same dizzy heights for poster prices that the Beatles did. One dealer offered a 1976 Wings Over America poster for £75, insisting it was genuine and in near mint condition – whilst at the same time claiming mint copies went for around £250. But even £250 is a reasonable price for something related to Paul McCartney.
Mid RangeA lot of punk posters occupy the middle ground, especially those for the Clash and the Sex Pistols. New Wave groups don’t come close (a 1979 Police poster sold for £150 – and was probably a good investment for the buyer). Expect to pay up to £1,000 (sometimes more) for good quality, early, rare punk posters, although you can often find them for a great deal less, especially those from 1977 onwards.
High EndIt’s the guitar heroes who command the highest prices, and Jimmy Page was probably the greatest guitar hero of the 1970s. Led Zeppelin memorabilia is exceptionally desirable, and the posters are no exception. Even the relatively common ones go in the upper hundreds, whilst rarer items can achieve a lot more (there are several instances where only one known copy exists, and they are quite literally worth far more than their weight in gold). As examples, a 1971 university tour poster brought more than £2,300 at auction, whilst a 1970 Swedish concert poster finally went for almost £1,800 (and it has been restored in part).
But just as perennially popular is John Lennon, the most iconic of the Fab Four, and posters related to him from the 1970s are in constant demand. His American Flag political poster can bring £1,500, for instance – a remarkable price considering it has absolutely no direct relation to music.
Before bidding on posters or buying them from a dealer, do your homework to be sure you’re buying the real thing.