Stephenson’s to auction the last of Perry Pfeffer’s legendary collection of rock concert posters
Unique collection spans 1960s-2000s, with many first printings, some signed by noted poster artists including Bonnie McLean, David Singer, Randy Tuten, Lee Conklin, Stanley Mouse
SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – The third and final auction of rock concert posters from the estate of Perry Pfeffer (circa 1949-2020), visionary founder of Postercade, will be held at Stephenson’s Auction’s suburban Philadelphia gallery on Sunday, December 11. All additional forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone and live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.
The private collection featuring artist-signed rarities from San Francisco’s Summer of Love and the heyday of New York’s Fillmore East attracted international media interest when Parts I and II were auctioned by Stephenson’s in August 2020 and again in January 2021. The December 11 session consists of 233 lots of premier posters with additional consignments of Beatles collectibles and classic rock and jazz LPs.
The sale is every bit as impressive as the previous Pfeffer outings, said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auction. “All of the posters are in mint or near-mint condition, and some are signed by the artists, including Bonnie McLean, David Singer, Randy Tuten, Lee Conklin and Stanley Mouse. At the top end, there are some very rare examples that might sell for $1,000 or more, but there are many others in the $300-$500 estimate range that will appeal to a wide range of collectors, whether they are advanced or just starting out in the hobby.”
The collection’s timeline starts in the psychedelic ’60s, a time when Pfeffer was living in San Francisco and presciently acquiring now-classic posters – sometimes from the artists themselves – and ends in the early 1990s. Later in life, Pfeffer returned to his native Philadelphia and, in 2001, launched Postercade, a commercial website popular with poster aficionados worldwide.
“Perry Pfeffer was a widely acknowledged expert on music posters, and the very best of what he acquired during his lifetime was kept in his private collection,” Stephenson said. “He knew what to buy. He had spent his entire adult life learning what was rare and original.”
The highest-estimated poster is a pictorial one that promotes Bob Dylan’s November 3, 1963 concert at the University Regent Theater in Syracuse, New York. It is possibly an original printing because of two tell-tale signs: it is printed on thin cardboard stock and there are no white squiggly lines on Dylan’s ear or hair. It measures 14 inches high by 19 7/8 inches wide, and is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.
Many of the posters represent shows produced by Bill Graham, the legendary impresario and concert promoter who was instrumental in making San Francisco a mecca for musicians and fans, alike, in the psychedelic era. Among the best of them is an original first printing of a Grateful Dead, Otis Rush and His Chicago Blues Band, and Canned Heat Blues Band concert poster for appearances on February 24-26, 1967 at the city’s Fillmore Auditorium. With art by Wes Wilson, it is estimated at $1,000-$1,500.
Another noteworthy Bill Graham Presents poster from San Francisco’s musical heyday is an original printing for a Canned Heat, Gordon Lightfoot and Cold Blood show that took place October 3-5, 1968 at the Fillmore West. The poster is signed by the artist, Lee Conklin, and is expected to sell for $200-$300.
Many of the now classic bands of that era are listed on the Bill Graham Presents Jefferson Airplane with Muddy Waters concert poster touting dates in September and October 1966 at Winterland Ballroom. It also publicizes two Butterfield Blues Band shows taking place around the same time at the Fillmore Auditorium. Wes Wilson is the artist who created the mind-bending design for this poster, which could attract a winning bid of $600-$800.
A nice collection of movie posters includes several promoting James Bond films (Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, etc.), as well as 1960s/’70s hits like Jaws, Shaft, The Dirty Dozen, High Plains Drifter, and the Steve McQueen car-racing thriller Le Mans (estimate $200-$300).
Some very unusual rock memorabilia has been added to the sale. A fantastic Beatles limited edition set of 12 coins, each comprised of 1 troy ounce of .999 fine silver was created by Chicagoland Processing Corp., between 1991-1994. Each of the coins has a design that is linked to a classic Beatles LP, including Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be, Revolver, and seven others, and each is accompanied by informational booklet about the specific LP it represents. This highly collectible set that cleverly crosses coin collecting with rock music and precious metals is estimated at $1,000-$1,500. Additional gems to tempt Beatles fans include monthly fanzines, Apple Corp. Beatles figures, music boxes, Sgt. Pepper dolls, buttons, collector plates and much more.
Another item that collectors wouldn’t run across every day is a Gretsch Model TW-100T Traveling Wilburys (George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne) commemorative guitar. Made circa 1987-1990, it is a ¾-size guitar and comes in its colorfully decorated original box with an unopened music cassette. Estimate: $300-$500
A great selection of classic record albums has been apportioned into affinity lots (all Elvis, Beatles or Frank Sinatra) and in mixed lots (all rock or all jazz). Most are estimated at $80-$100, but the Beatles boxed set of 33 LPs and 1978 Parlophone rarities is offered with a $400-$600 estimate.
Stephenson’s Sunday, December 11 auction of Rock Concert & Movie Posters, Beatles & More, featuring Part III of the Perry Pfeffer estate collection will take place at the company’s spacious gallery located at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton (Bucks County), PA 18966. The session will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, with a preview from 12 noon to 2 p.m. All forms of bidding will be available, including live in the gallery, absentee, by phone, or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail [email protected].