Question: What are your favorite lots in this auction and why?
Let’s start with lot #1, “Whatever It Is”. This was from the San Francisco State event that was planned by Stewart Brand, the same Prankster that was the primary organizer on The Trips Festival. Brand was also responsible for the Whole Earth Catalog. They didn't promote the event a an acid test because it was on a college campus, so they called it “Whatever it Is”. Four days after the event, LSD was declared illegal in the state of California. This was the last big public party before that happened. It was an important event, and the Grateful Dead played there!
I also have to talk about The Trips Festival handbill (Wes Wilson) because it’s the best story of all! This event along with the San Francisco State event were kind of the bookend events of 1966. At The Trips Festival, everyone came together, including the Merry Pranksters, Chet Helms, and Bill Graham. Bill Graham was the one sober individual in the building and was attempting to keep the whole thing organized and to get people to pay. He famously butted heads with Kesey and Ken Babs this weekend and was after which was regarded as a capitalist pig, by some in the community.The Pranksters were clearly not digging the Bill Graham energy. However, this story is countered by Jerry's first recollection of Graham. Bill was helplessly trying to help fix Jerry Garcia’s broken guitar that was horribly mangled in the chaos. If was a useless endeavor because The Dead were too high to really play but Jerry recalled loving Bill from that moment forward. That was Bill, both loved and hated.
Another great piece is lot #12, an original silkscreen handbill for the Grateful Dead at California Hall. This was an early event advocating marijuana legalization.
Lots #13-19 came directly from Jay Thelin, who used to co-own the Psychedelic Shop in San Francisco with his brother Ron. These posters used to hang in the shop and he’s had them ever since. My favorite of these is the FD-17, although this particular one has been trimmed and isn’t necessarily the highest quality. But it's still beautiful, the best looking early FD poster in my opinion. Each of the Thelin posters also come with signed letters of authenticity.
Lot #31 is a really great example of this European Zappa poster, and European stuff is hard to find in top condition on this side of the Atlantic. FZ is my personal hero ...That’s my favorite favorite!
Lot #37 is a Victor Moscoso poster for The Who at the Shrine Auditorium. This is always a great poster, and it animates under a color wheel.
One of my favorite posters in the world is lot #80, the Shiva from the Grande Ballroom. This is one of the rarest, best Gary Grimshaw posters that exists. It’s graded a 4.5, but it’s in one piece and it’s super rare. The Vanessa, lot #86 is another great Grande Ballroom item. It's a postcard, but locating the poster is very difficult.
Question: What are perhaps the most overlooked posters in the auction that you think bidders should be aware of?
Lot #254, the Nirvana handbills from 1992 in Portland. This is the first example we’ve seen of these at auction anywhere. The first handbill is certified by CGC and was designed by Mike King for a Nirvana show that was canceled. This one appears in Mike King’s book Maximum Plunder, so CGC was able to certify and grade it. MXP is currently the only cataloging system used to certify posters from the Pacific Northwest. The second one doesn’t appear in the book, so it could not be graded by CGC, but is graded by PAE as a Mint 95. Although we thought this second one was also a Mike King design, it’s actually not. So what we think happened was that the promoter used the artwork from the original canceled show to create this new piece of artwork to promote the rescheduled show. It’s authentic as f*ck and is the first example that has been uncovered by the collector’s community. The consignor of these handbills, who ironically was not a Nirvana fan, got them from Crossroads Records in Portland, OR, a really important place in the history of the Northwest music scene.
The Grateful Dead prohibition piece is also severely underrated. It’s plain, it’s California Hall, it’s not sexy, but it’s a great piece with a great history. This is the silkscreen printing and its sexier that the litho.
Lot #22 is a poster that was actually done for the same event as the Aoxomoxoa, and was designed by Jack Jackson, AKA Jaxon, who worked as art director for the Family Dog.
Why do you think collectors should buy CGC graded posters?
Transparency. Grading is a subjective art, but with third party authentication/certification one can feel more comfortable buying and spending money on collectibles. CGC grading allows the collectors to compare apples to apples!