Punk rock represents the angry sound of anarchy – so it is perhaps surprising that posters of the era are becoming a shrewd investment.
The punk movement exploded on the scene in the mid-1970s, with bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Now, almost 50 years on, collectors are pushing up prices of posters for punk gigs and records to new highs.
A poster for the little-known punk band Bazooka Joe sold for £28,000 last month. The reason for the high price? The poster, which advertised the band’s 1975 gig at St Martin’s Art School in London, mentions a ‘support band’ which turned out to be the undiscovered Sex Pistols.
Dan Hampson, auction manager at Omega Auctions in Merseyside, where the item reached this record price, says: ‘The generation that grew up in the 1970s is approaching retirement age. Many are choosing to spend their money on items linked to the punk revolution they joyfully remember from their youth.’
Vince Monticelli, who runs The Record Shop in Ashford, Kent, adds that new fans are also pushing up values. ‘The renaissance in interest in punk is not just about middle-aged men but also lots of young music fans who are discovering it for the first time,’ he says.
Never mind a rip or two: Poster fan Gary Loveridge with his collection
The highest-value posters relate to the most popular bands of the time, such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Experts say the older the poster, the better, as investors value those that relate to the time prior to bands finding fame.
Collector Gary Loveridge, 60, from East London, owns a God Save The Queen poster with artwork by Jamie Reid, promoting a Sex Pistols single in 1977. It cost Gary just £5 in 1987 and by 2013 was worth £300. Today it might sell for ten times this price – at £3,000.
Gary says: ‘Jamie Reid punk artwork is highly sought after, as is that of artist Barnie Bubbles who worked for Stiff Records and did a lot of cover art for punk bands including The Damned, and Ian Dury And The Blockheads.’
The most valuable in Gary’s collection is a 1979 Joy Division poster promoting the album Unknown Pleasures. It is now worth £6,000 but cost pennies when he bought it while still at school. He also owns a promotional poster for iconic 1979 album London Calling by The Clash, now worth £2,000.
Gary, a landscape gardener, says that collectors should make sure to pick posters for a love of the music and what it represents. He says: ‘In this virtue-signalling society, punk is a breath of fresh air – when music could be played with a mad love for life without being manufactured to promote mainstream opinions.’
Although owners of punk posters are starting to realise the value of what they have, there are still plenty of treasures to be found. Bargains still turn up at car boot sales and other markets, so it’s worth keeping an eye out.
But as the value of posters grows, fakes are flooding the market. If you are handing over large sums, make sure you purchase from a reputable source such as an established print shop or auction house and see it in person before buying.
Also, do your research to make sure you buy an original. Check the paper size and printing method of the poster matches up with others of that era and type. And if unsure, check with an expert collector on websites such as Punkrockposters.net or Classicposters.com.
Investors should consider rarity when purchasing – but unlike with most collectible items, condition is not such an important consideration. A punk poster may well retain value even if it is dog-eared or slightly ripped.