SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – On Friday, December 3rd, it will be deja-vu all over again as Stephenson’s of suburban Philadelphia presents Part III of the fabled Perry Pfeffer rock concert poster collection. The 320-lot auction will take place live at Stephenson’s gallery, with absentee and Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.
Unique collection also includes concert t-shirts, period music publications and hardbound books
Perry Pfeffer (circa 1949-2020) was a top expert in the field of original concert posters and had a special appreciation for the ones printed in the “psychedelic ’60s and ‘70s.” While he went on to become a successful and well-known poster dealer, Pfeffer was always a collector at heart, so when exceptional examples came his way, he would set them aside for his own collection. Stephenson’s has been auctioning the Pfeffer estate collection in an ongoing series of sales that debuted with a $300,000 session in August 2020 and followed with Part II on New Year’s Day 2021.
The esteemed collection’s timeline starts in the freewheeling 1960s, a time when Pfeffer was living in San Francisco and presciently acquiring now-classic posters, sometimes from the artists themselves. Many years later, Pfeffer returned to his native Philadelphia, and in 2001 launched Postercade, a commercial website popular with poster fans.
All of the posters in the December 3 sale are in mint or near-mint condition. Many are signed by the artists who created them, including Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Rick Griffin, Randy Tuten, Bonnie MacLean, David Singer and other luminaries of the genre. “At the top end, there are some very rare posters, including an original 1969 Woodstock poster and a very rare 1963 Bob Dylan poster for a performance sponsored by CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) in Syracuse, New York. They are likely to sell for thousands of dollars. But there are many other excellent posters that might sell in the $100 to $200 estimate range,” said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auctioneers.
The highest-estimated item in the sale is the aforementioned Woodstock poster. The iconic 1969 lithograph with the image of a dove perched on a guitar neck announces the 20th century’s most famous music event: the Original Woodstock Music and Art Fair and Aquarian Exposition. This original Type 1 poster promoting the pinnacle of hippie culture – the mega-concert held at Max Yasgur’s Farm in Bethel, New York – was created by artist Arthur Skolnick (b. 1937-) and is expected to sell for $5,000-$7,000. The Bob Dylan poster, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, is especially significant because it is one of very few pieces that visually connect the singer/songwriter to the Civil Rights Movement. There is consensus amongst collectors that this is one of the most artistically compelling and historically important of all early Dylan memorabilia.
The quintessential San Francisco hippie band, The Grateful Dead, is represented in 40 lots of posters, books and shirts. Strong interest is already being shown over an orange-and-black Grateful Dead “Trip or Freak” concert poster from an October 31, 1967 Halloween concert at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. Created by three of the all-time great concert poster artists – Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley – the original Type 1 second-print poster is numbered 41/500. It is also signed by Kelley. The pre-sale estimate is $2,000-$3,000.
Nearly 100 posters serve as a testament to historic concerts produced by legendary impresario Bill Graham (1931-1991). The wide estimate range makes these posters affordable to both advanced collectors and beginners who want mementos from the pre-MTV period, when Graham’s Fillmore East and Fillmore West could launch a band’s career literally overnight on the basis of a live performance. Examples from the three-decade selection include posters for: Quicksilver Messenger Service, Oct. 5-7, 1967; Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, an original first printing created by artists Herb Greene and Bonnie MacLean (signed), $800-$1,000; and The Doors, July 25, 1969; Cow Palace, San Francisco, by artist Randy Tuten, $200-$300.
A vibrant “Bill Graham Presents” poster touting Pink Floyd’s May 9-10, 1977 Day on the Green concert series at the Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum is especially recognizable because of its image of a pig floating above the clouds toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Earlier that year, Pink Floyd released their “Animals” LP, whose cover depicts an inflatable pig floating between two chimneys of London’s Battersea Power Station. The poster is an original printing with art by Randy Tuten and William Bostedt. Estimate: $800-$1,000
Poignantly, a “Bill Graham Presents Red Hot Chili Peppers” concert poster (with openers Nirvana and Pearl Jam) advertises a Dec. 31, 1991 show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace which took place two months after Graham’s death in a helicopter crash. The original first printing with art by Harry Rossit is estimated at $1,500-$2,000.
Stephenson’s Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 auction of Part III of the Perry Pfeffer estate collection of rock concert posters will start at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any item in the sale, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail email@example.com.
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