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Classic Posters - A Tale of a Poster Investor

Classic Posters - A Tale of a Poster Investor

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Published by Michael Erlewine
These are articles on concert-music posters and poster collecting from the site ClassicPosters.com founded by award-winning archivist of popular culture Michael Erlewine who founded All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Astrologyland.com and many other popular Internet sites. All articles copyright and written or produced by Michael Erlewine. Do visit ClassicPosters.com in its current incarnation.
These are articles on concert-music posters and poster collecting from the site ClassicPosters.com founded by award-winning archivist of popular culture Michael Erlewine who founded All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Astrologyland.com and many other popular Internet sites. All articles copyright and written or produced by Michael Erlewine. Do visit ClassicPosters.com in its current incarnation.

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Published by: Michael Erlewine on Jan 08, 2011
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Concert Posters - A Tale of a Poster Investor
 
Concert Posters - A Tale of a PosterInvestorBy Michael ErlewineMichael@Erlewine.net
 This is the heretofore never-before-toldstory of how I got into investing inposters. First of all, from myperspective, I have collected postersvirtually forever, at first when I was amusician back in the day and wanted tohave the posters for the gigs where myband performed. Lucky for me, some ofthose posters turned out to be worth alot, almost 40 years later. I dug out GaryGrimshaw's first poster for the GrandeBallroom (the "Seagull") from mybasement years ago, still looking prettydarn good, and now worth about $3000,much to my surprise. Of course, I wish Ihad made more of a habit back then ofgrabbing the posters. Oh, well.I didn't have a lot of cash to invest, but Ihad a great thirst to collect. I was tired ofmoving what little savings I had frombank to bank, trying to get some meageramount of interest, so that my money,such as it was, would grow. Wheneconomic times got tougher, thepercentage a bank would pay me toappreciate my cash was almost nothing.And the vagaries of the stock marketand the economy were taking all of uson a roller-coaster ride, mostly downhill.Friends all around me lost their savingsone way or another. I had my own wayof losing mine, but that would beanother story.I am not a financial wizard or even verygood at that sort of thing, but the more Ithought about it, the more I wished Icould put my savings into rock-concertposters. First of all, I love music and Ilove the simplicity of commercial art, likeadvertising for a one-night event. Afterall, I could see by checking the history ofposter sales, that these little babieswere headed upward in price, at leastwhenever I want to buy one. I tracedsome of the average and the keyposters for the Bill Graham and FamilyDog posters series back a good bunchof years, and then compared thoseprices to what these same pieces wereselling today for. Sure enough, they hadgone up. More importantly, if youchoose your posters carefully, they cango up more than if you had invested thatsame money at compounded interest inthe local bank at 10%. And where couldanyone get 10% those days. 2% or lesswas more like it, and unless you had alot to deposit, it was more like nothing.And then I did a foolish or wise thing,depending on how you look at it.
COMMITTING THE TABOO
Since I had no real money to invest, Idid a forbidden thing. I borrowed againstmy life insurance policy to invest inposters. Now don't get me wrong, Inever put my family at risk. If I died, theywould get the big bucks, minus what Ihad borrowed, which was small incomparison. But borrow I did.In the beginning, I invested that moneyin solid well-known posters, mostly inthe Bill Graham and Family Dog series.As time went on, whenever I got anyextra money, I bought a few moreposters. I began to build sets and Ibought whole sets. My hope was thatthese investments would appreciate,and that I would actually make moremoney from these posters than I put in.And I must admit, I loved the idea ofputting my money into something thatnot only appreciated, but that you could
 
Concert Posters - A Tale of a Poster Investor
 
use and enjoy. "Banking on the wall"was what I called it. I did that.Well, years have gone by, and I havenot regretted my decision. I loveposters, and like Uncle Scrooge in themoney bin, I love to look at my postersand to just know they are sitting there,waiting to be viewed, and appreciatingin value at the same time. Posters arenot what I would call a liquid asset, butthey are also outside of the stockmarket, which might be up today, butcould be down tomorrow. You neverknow. How many of us have watched aninvestment in stocks circling the drain?Not fun.
JUST WHAT ARE WISEINVESTMENTS?
What are wise investments? For one, Iconsider it wise to have posters, at leastsome, that you just plain like, whetherthey are currently appreciating andworth something or not. Who cares? Ihave some of this type and I like to havethem on the wall or at least I plan to getthem up there. In this case, I aminvesting in my own joy in theseparticular posters.Another way to invest, and the one Irecommend those of you who want tomake sure your investment does notreach the point of no return, is to investin posters that you like AND that aregenerally considered to have,historically speaking, appreciated invalue. It is a rule of thumb among posterinvestors that it is better to invest in afew high-value posters than in a lot oflower value ones. The rare, high-valueposters are just that, rare and alreadyhave real value. Unless someone turnsup a stash of hundreds of these (and ithappens!), your investment is prettysecure. You can look onClassicPosters.cm to see which postersare expensive and which are not. Youcan also seek out an expert and, for afee, have them help you pick out aportfolio to invest in.However, let me toss in a disclaimerhere. I am not an investment counselorand I am not recommending that you door do not invest your hard-earnedmoney in posters. What I am, issomeone who has invested his ownhard-earned money in posters, with noregrets, so far. I am telling you herewhat I understand it is that thecommunity of poster collectors, in fact,do.
GAMBLING ON THE UNDERVALUED
 Another, and far more risky approach,but one that is also a lot of fun, is toinvest in the posters that areundervalued now, but which you think(in your infinite wisdom) will appreciatein value over time. And the reason couldbe that the poster is simply (to youreyes) too beautiful not to becomescarce, as more and more folks snapthem up for their living room walls. Youfeel you can spot good art. Can you?We shall see. And there also is the factthat you might be too sophisticated forthe market, which will be quite happywith something less subtle.Or, a poster could simply be rarebecause only a few were printed, ormuch of the printing was lost or hasbecome unavailable for one reason oranother. Here you are betting on thephysical rarity of the poster. Of course,this only really works if that poster ispart of a set, a venue, includes aparticular popular band, or what haveyou? There are legions of posters thathave been simply forgotten, regardlessof how rare or not they happen to be.

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