Velvet Goldmine

By at home

The market for collecting rock and pop souvenirs is proving to be highly popular – and lucrative.

This is very much a case of combining your passion for all things to do with rock, pop and even classical music, with the principles of collecting and re-selling at the right price and, in most cases, making a tidy profit.

Rock and pop memorabilia is one of the most exciting and accessible collecting areas. Most items are reasonably priced and plentiful, though if you want to play in the big league, there is still much to invest: John Lennon’s Rolls Royce was sold for $2.3m as far back as 1985.

Then in September of 2004 a drum set presented by Keith Moon of The Who to the group Thunderclap Newman was sold for well over £100,000 and likewise a guitar belonging to Pete Townsend also went for a £100,000 plus figure. Perhaps there was added value to these items based on the fact that The Who had a penchant for destroying their equipment!

But which are the best eras, and what items are the most sought after?

Almost any object connected with a well-known star can be collected: tickets, posters and any other matter printed for concerts and tours is high on the collector’s list. Naturally the most valuable items are those closely linked with the stars themselves. Musical instruments are especially sought after and electric guitars in particular can fetch prices in the thousands of pounds if they were owned and played at specific events.

Clothes are also good to collect, especially if they are closely linked to the owner. Elton John’s platform shoes, Madonna’s leather corset and Michael Jackson’s rhinestone-studded glove have all attracted huge media attention, and of course prices to match when they’ve come up for auction. But it needn’t be the domain for rich collectors only: a roadie’s official tour jacket, an imported album cover, a programme, all can start as low as £100.

Many collectors focus on the golden era of rock’n’roll, the 1950s and 1960s.

You’ll find memorabilia from this period is harder to come by compared to that of the other popular era, the 1970s, which also has a very strong nostalgic appeal. However, items from this time struggle to fetch the high prices as collectables relating to more recent superstars.

Buddy Holly and Jim Morrison are much sought after by collectors focusing on the 1950s and 1960s. For example, the programme for Holly’s only UK tour is worth about £850. Of course Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones also are much sought after, but the biggest draw is always for any item connected to The Beatles. And there is so much around, from the sublime to the ridiculous, so that any collector can carve a little niche for themselves.

Elton John dominates the memorabilia of the 1970s. His extravagant clothes and accessories always fetch good prices. The Who and Pete Townsend’s smashed guitars in particular are good to collect, the more broken up the better. And look out for Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and the Sex Pistols.

The best items to collect from the 1980s and 1990s are the flamboyant stage outfits. But beware, as they can fetch extravagant prices, too.

The advent of the pop video was largely responsible for the growing importance of stars of the 1980s and 1990s and the video became an integral part of their image. Concerts and tours became increasingly sophisticated, and the star’s visual impact became as significant as the music. Costumes, often made by leading designers, are an obvious way of establishing a star’s persona. Hence outfits of increasingly extravagant design have become associated with many of the most famous celebrities of the 1980s and 1990s.

Anything from Madonna, Prince, Queen, Elton John is very attractive to collectors. Madonna, as she has changed her image so often, is a rich source of collectable material, and of course so is Prince. Discs, platinum or otherwise, are good items to collect as they are relatively cheap, often in the low hundreds of pounds, but also much sought after as they look good on anyone’s wall.

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