Posters never go out of style as decoration in the rooms of students and teens. Fans too, often collect them, especially for gigs by a favourite band that they’ve attended. But the closer one comes to the present day, the less value posters have.
By the 1980s, the artwork that had made the posters of the 1960s, and even early 1970s, so beautiful, had vanished. Tour posters had, for the most part, become photographs – good enough as advertising, but usually not so stunning.
That’s not to say they’re all without worth. Special gigs and tours, and certain bands, do bring some interesting prices. For example, a poster for a gig with Iron Maiden and Guns’N’Roses, from 1988, was being offered by a dealer for £65. Hardly a fortune, but a respectable price for a poster. A Metallica concert poster (which saw them down the bill from the Scorpions and Ratt!), was about the same price, and only slightly cheaper was one for Ozzy and Metallica – both, you’ll observe, from early in Metallica’s career.
Some artists, like Bruce Springsteen, can command higher prices for posters – a pair from the early 1980s going for around £200 each. But they’re the exception, rather than the rule. Even U2 could only hope to get around £30 for a poster (although any from early Dublin gigs would have much greater value).
As always, be aware that some posters (such as in the image above) are reproduced, either legitimately or otherwise, and can still make nice additions to a collection, but are not likely to be worth anything.
What to BuyThe vast majority of posters aren’t great investments. You’ll need something quite rare, like ones advertising early gigs by Guns’N’Roses, for instance, or gigs by the Seattle grunge bands in the late 1980s, before they became famous. But even with those, don’t start planning your retirement; the maximum they’re likely to bring is in the upper hundreds, and that’s if you’re lucky.
That’s not to say values won’t rise, and that these rare items won’t be worth in the low thousands at some point in the future. For now, though, they’re either long term investments, or for collectors.
It’s perhaps no surprise that posters for the biggest acts of the 80s, people like Michael Jackson or Madonna, don’t sell for much. Their tours were huge affairs, and the posters simply advertising, not art – indeed, you can say the same for the Rolling Stones in this period, too. With a single, generic poster for an entire tour, there’s little value, even for collectors.
Where to BuyWhile dealers handle some posters, many of the truly rare ones are going to be sold by fans, often people who’d followed the band since the early days and now need money or have simply decided to give up collecting for some reason.
Those might crop up on eBay, or more likely in private auctions on fan sites – which makes them easy to miss unless you check those sites often. If you bid, you’ll probably be competing against dealers, but at the same time, prices are unlikely to go that high on any 80s poster auction.
As a general rule, avoid dealers for posters from this era unless you’ve been unable to find the specific item you seek elsewhere. In most cases you can find it cheaper on eBay.