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Grateful Dead poster brings a record $56,400 at Psychedelic Art Exchange
This rare museum quality specimen of the legendary Grateful Dead ‘Skeleton and Roses’ concert poster was the auction’s top lot, soaring to a record $56,400.

BALTIMORE, MD.- A rare, museum-quality 1966 Grateful Dead “Skeleton and Roses” concert poster brought a world record price of $56,400 in an online auction held May 16th by Psychedelic Art Exchange, with offices in Baltimore and Park City, Utah. The poster had been independently authenticated and graded by Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) as 9.8 out of 10 for condition.

“The interest this poster received was simply staggering,” said Scott Tilson of Psychedelic Art Exchange. “The record price was the result of a perfect storm. It was the most iconic image of a beloved band, and in the finest CGC graded condition ever to appear at public auction. Many collectors believe 1960’s concert posters represent a tremendous bargain at today’s price levels.”

The poster was designed by the legendary concert poster artists Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse. It was used to promote two Grateful Dead concerts – held September 16th and 17th, 1966 – at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. The famous “Skeleton and Roses” design would later be appropriated by the band as their logo. The Grateful Dead is one of the iconic rock ‘n’ roll bands.

The poster was widely expected to exceed the world record price of $50,600 realized for a CGC graded 9.4 specimen that was also auctioned by Psychedelic Art Exchange in a prior auction, on August 9th, 2018. It exceeded that figure after generating bids from collectors around the world. The auction enjoyed a 100 percent sell-through, a rare occurrence for any collectibles auction.

The auction featured 200 vintage concert posters and handbills that had been independently certified by CGC, the world's leader in third party authentication of collectibles. Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

An original, pre-concert first printing of a beautiful Fillmore East-Jimi Hendrix poster from 1968, graded CGC 8.5 and signed by artist David Byrd, rose to $7,800. The poster, one of the most desirable of all the Hendrix posters, boasted vibrant colors and near-flawless paper quality. It was just the third CGC-graded example (and first signed by the artist) ever offered by PAE.

The Grateful Dead proved to be very much alive and well with collectors. A 1966 poster of the band for an appearance at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, graded CGC 9.8 and signed by the artists Stanley Mouse and the late Alton Kelley, finished at $6,600. The original first printing poster is one of the most popular in the entire Avalon series. And Grateful Dead was misspelled!

A 1968 Grateful Dead “Be Mine” poster for a Valentine’s Day dance at the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco, the finest quality CGC graded (9.8) example of this original issue ever to appear in a PAE auction, breezed to $3,300. The odd-shaped and whimsical poster was artist Stanley Mouse’s riff on a vintage Valentine and featured a goofy antique photo for its primary image.

A 1966 Bo Diddley concert poster for an appearance at the Avalon Ballroom, signed in pencil by both artists Stanley Mouse and the late Alton Kelley, garnered $3,900. The 9.8 specimen was the finest quality CGC graded, double-signed example ever to appear at public auction. One of only 1,300 made, the poster was printed on brown paper, which collectors knew was easily damaged.

“These record prices are the result of independent third-party authentication and grading by CGC,” added Tilson. “Collectors can bid with confidence, knowing they are receiving exactly what they bargained for. It’s led to a massive expansion in the number of collectors participating in this marketplace.” Psychedelic Art Exchange has published a free collector’s guide, Insider Secrets of the Vintage Concert Poster Market.

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