It might seem hard to credit, when there’s a market flooded with all manner of rock memorabilia but there’s actually a demand for reproduction memorabilia, too, to the extent that some limited edition reproductions are becoming mildly valuable in their own right to collectors.
If that seems a little odd, it’s not, really. The main market for reproductions is in posters, which, much like prints, can be fairly easily reproduced. Obviously, with older posters, the chances of finding an original are very limited (and extremely expensive when you can), so for those who want either a memento of the event – albeit many years later – or just some artwork, it’s a reasonable option. Where they’re reproduced in limited quantities – which makes sense, since the demand is hardly likely to be astronomical – they can become collector’s items if a print run is all sold.
Are Reproductions Legal?As long as they’re made with the permission of the people who own the original copyright and artwork, reproductions are completely legal – as long as it’s explicitly stated that they are reproductions, of course.
On eBay it’s quite common to see reproductions of Beatles concert posters from the early 1960s, especially ones advertising gigs in England. At the price usually charged, which is less than £5, no one is going to believe that it's an original poster. It’s something to give as a gift to a Beatle fanatic for his collection.
Knebworth FestivalRockMusicMemorabilia.com produces reproduction posters of the Bath, Lincoln and Knebworth festivals of the 1970s. For someone who was at one of these events, this is a lovely piece of nostalgia. Much the same is true of the tee shirts they offer (it’s doubtful that many of these events had their own tee shirts at the time), which include a reproduction 1976 Rolling Stones tour shirt.
For the most part, these are things to appeal to fans, or to someone who wants people to think he actually attended the 1976 Stones tour (the same principle that applies to people who buy tour shirts at gigs – it’s a form of showing off).
Their posters have limited runs, and for fans that can make them worthwhile. Granted, they won’t make anyone rich even if they come up for resale, but no one would buy them as an investment anyway – they simply qualify as collectables.
ClothingThere was a time when reproductions of Michael Jackson’s famous white glove were made and sold, or when any new Madonna fashion saw a rash of reproductions. These are now vintage clothing, and often worth owning in their own right. If you can find a reproduction of a Beatles’ collarless suit, for instance, snap it up if the price is reasonable, or 1970s punk clothing. It may not have a direct association with a star, but its value is continuing to rise.
Reproduction tee shirts do good business, too, even those that aim more to evoke nostalgia rather then be specific reproductions. One American company, for example, does shirts of cult figures like Gram Parsons, with an image, information, and reproduction of a backstage pass. True vintage rock shirts can go for £100, sometimes even more, but the reproductions, of course, sell for much less. In 2006 it was quite common to see teenagers wearing reproduction Ramones shirts, even though none of them had been alive when the band existed.
What Can You ReproduceYou can reproduce most things, as long as you have permission, and pay royalties where appropriate. Even some old rock books have been reissued, such as Anthony Scaduto’s biography of Bob Dylan, which was one of the first of its kind, and of a sough-after figure.
Photos, too, can be reproduced, although often it’s the photographer who will do this.
One area where reproduction is a no-no is recordings. Get into that, and it becomes piracy or bootlegging. That said, bootleg CDs, usually of live concerts, continue to circulate and sell, and some bands actively encourage fans to record. But it’s an infinitely tricky area and it is much safer to steer clear of it.