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1990s Posters

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss

For the vast majority of acts from the 1990s, posters are very disposable artefacts. That’s most definitely true of the big pop acts and for many of the rock stadium acts, as well. A single poster covers the entire tour, with the dates beneath a photo. It’s hardly collectable.

You can find some exceptions, though. Certain concerts do have special posters, and those can be collectable – and fairly expensive. Take a 1991 Pearl Jam show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace as an example. It’s elaborate and colourful and designed just for the show. A first run poster on heavy stock will cost you around £150. It’s not a fortune and it might be debatable how much the value will rise, but it’s a reasonable price for the poster (a second run will cost you a great deal less – about £25).

What to Buy

For something to be worth purchasing, it needs to be art rather than just advertising, and as the times became more corporate, that was harder to find. So what you need to hunt down are posters that are genuine, but different, with a sense of art, be it primitive or sophisticated.

Wolfgang’s Vault is a good source for San Francisco posters (they go back to the 1960s, but several of the ones from the 1990s are worth much more than a glance). They carry some Nirvana posters for £50-250.

Look for the top rock bands – they’re the most likely to have some very different items. Acts from the 1970s and 1980s were still performing during this decade, and they, too, can have some little gems – think of perennial artists like Neil Young. The market isn’t limited to newer bands, by any means.

It’s almost certain that the prices won’t rise as high as vintage items - it’ll be very rare where you’ll encounter a situation where only one poster for a particular show exists, for instance.

That said, by looking around you should be able to make some interesting finds, and quite possibly at cheaper prices than the dealers (and you won’t find too many dealers who specialise in posters).

Where to Buy

Quite honestly, the best place to find posters is on eBay. You need to be sure of two things, though. The main one is quality. A lot of posters offered will have been removed from poles or walls, so you need to be sure they’re not tattered or torn, which will ruin their resale value (and certainly won’t help if you want to display them, either).

You also need to be very aware of prices. Chances are that an eBay auction won’t go anywhere near as high as a dealer’s price, but before you get into a bidding war over an item, be sure of its real worth. Don’t bid £200 for something you can buy in pristine condition from a dealer for £150.

So, although the 1990s wasn’t a golden age for posters and you’re unlikely to re-sell for the fabulous sums those of the 1960s can make, there’s enough to make it an interesting and possibly profitable, search.

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