Rock ‘n Roll memorabilia has become one of the most fascinating and interesting aspects of the entire field of collecting.
The Beatles have always topped the memorabilia chart but closely behind them are The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Who, in that order. It is these artists that consistently bring the highest prices in the market. Autographs, concert memorabilia, novelty items, and personal material are the type of artifacts in which collectors are most interested.
Autographs, mostly notably those of The Beatles, seem to be an endless source of fascination to collectors. The signatures of John, Paul, George and Ringo have continued to grow in value since 1980, the year when collecting rock memorabilia really took off.
The price of a set of Beatles autographs depends principally on the kind of item on which the autographs have been signed. However, condition is becoming an increasingly important factor in determining value not just in relation to autographs but across the whole field of collecting.
Beatles autographs on albums, in particular the group’s later releases such as Revolver or Sgt. Pepper, are of the highest value, followed by photos signed on the front. The most common form in which Beatles autographs were obtained by fans was on a page from the humble autograph book. A set of Beatles autographs on one page is more desirable and of a higher value than a set signed over 2 or 3 pages.
There is also a tremendous amount of interest in manuscript material such as handwritten letters and lyrics. The latter have gained phenomenally in value in recent years. The autographs of all of the other major bands from the 60′s are very collectable, particularly those of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin, but no group comes anywhere near the value of Beatles autographs not even The Rolling Stones.
Concert memorabilia such as posters, programmes, tickets etc. attracts a wide number of collectors. Again it is The Beatles who top the chart. Posters from the group’s early 60s concerts around the world can bring £5,000 - £10,000 . But posters from concerts by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix can also attract significant prices. In recent years concert memorabilia relating to these artists have tended to increase in value at a faster rate than that of The Beatles.
Throughout the 60s but particularly during the period of Beatlemania there was a massive amount of licensed and unlicensed merchandise – toy drums, plastic guitars, jewellery etc.- produced to satisfy the demand from Beatles fans. Much of this material is now only of moderate value except if it is in mint condition but there are several items which were produced in very limited quantities in the 60s e.g. the Beatles Selcol Record Rack, The Beatles Perfume which are of extremely high value.
One of the most salient features of the pop memorabilia market in the recent years has been the acute level of interest in the more personal or unique items such as instruments which have been used by a group or artist, clothing (especially stage worn apparel), paintings, diaries etc. One obvious reason for the interest in this type of material is that a one-off item will most probably appreciate in value more than an article which was mass produced. But also the more personal or the more closely associated a piece of memorabilia becomes with a particular artist or group then the more desirable the item then becomes, particularly if it has excellent provenance.
A perfect example of this type of memorabilia is the leather collar which was worn constantly by John Lennon throughout 1967 and 1968 and which he was pictured wearing on numerous occasions. It was sold for over £100,000 by Magic Alex Mardas who worked for The Beatles Apple organisation and who was a close friend of John’s.