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Sep 04

Investing in Rock-n-Roll; Memorabilia and Collectibles – What you should know

Collecting historically significant rock-n-roll items has definitely turned from a fan’s hobby into a lucrative investment opportunity. But, if you are just getting into the game, here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your investments.

1. Supply & Demand
Autographed memorabilia is a great collectible. It is limited just by the fact that the Artist had to take the time to sign it. Be sure the item is authentic and get it yourself, or at least make sure it comes with a reputable authenticity certificate and pictures.

The best way to collect signed items is to get them yourself at an artist appearance.  A few years ago, Michael Anthony (Van Halen) was at a store signing autographs and taking photos with fans to promote his latest collectible, replica miniature of his most famous guitars.

One of the new miniature guitars Michael was promoting was a replica Yamaha bass. He noticed that certain marks were missing on the back of one of the models he was signing and said, “this is from the first batch and doesn’t have the marks on the back. The next batch should be corrected.” This means the item is even more limited and more valuable.

If an item is numbered, look for lower numbers. Typically, the lower the number, the more valuable the item. An example would be a Limited Edition Fine Art Print    by photography legend Neil Zlozower . Size, print type, quality and framing contribute to the value of the piece, but most important is that number. For example, 7/200: the low number (7) is the number in the series. The high number (200) is the limit that will ever be sold in the marketplace of that particular print presentation. You’re looking for the lowest number in the series and as limited edition as you can find.

Limited pieces will be accompanied by some sort of documentation declaring the total number of pieces in the collection. In some cases the piece itself is not numbered, but the number is noted on the documentation or box. One example is an Elvis 1668 Comeback Cookie Jar. This is one of only 2400 to ever be manufactured. Limited and breakable – now that’s the recipe for a great investment.

2. Age AND Beauty
Older is typically better, but if the item is in disrepair, it can bring the value down significantly. It is increasingly important to keep Rock-n-Roll collectibles protected. The fastest way to preserve and protect your memorabilia is to frame it in acid-free mat and UV glass. 

A great example is a laundry ticket signed by Jim Morrison of the Doors in 1969 worth $6,000 in its current presentation. Unframed and unprotected, the signature could fade away and item become a worthless piece of paper.

Framing can also instantly increase the value of the item just by improving the presentation. One example is a Rolling Stones Autographed Guitar unframed for $4950. A very similar guitar protected in framed presentation is priced significantly higher at $6995.

Original packaging is also important.  Not only does the condition of the item affect the value, but the packaging plays a great part as well. Purchase toys and figurines in pairs. One to play with and one to keep tucked away in the original package as an investment. The trick is to buy when the item comes into the marketplace, not after they stop making it. A great example are three 18” action figures with sound made by the same manufacturer. The Iron Maiden 18” Eddie figure by NECCA. This item was available for a couple of years, but now is no longer available. At any time, these items can go off the market and instantly increase in value due to rule #1 – supply and demand. If you can find these items in original packaging, they will appreciate more than those without.

3. Value is Highly Subjective
Collecting rock-n-roll memorabilia is a labor of love. The value of an item is ultimately decided by the person who collects it. If you love the Grateful Dead, always went to their shows, always bought a concert poster at every show, and you missed the Day on the Green October 9, 1976 at Oakland Coliseum Stadium where the Who opened for the Dead; then you’ll pay more for the original concert poster for that show. Why? Because you love the Grateful Dead.  That poster may be worthless to someone else who doesn’t dig the Dead. Even Original Concert posters from the most modern and recent bands may have been $25 at the concert, but worth $100 to a fan who missed out on that concert. An item is only worth what the market will bear.

Below are some great examples of what the market can do for the value of Rock-n-Roll Memorabilia.




A Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album signed by all four Beatles recently sold for $27,500 to a private collector increasing it’s value 90 times in 23 years.

Bo Diddley’s autographed square-shape guitar with travel-stickered case hand-made for Dick Clarke – sold at auction for $9,600 in 2006.  Today’s estimated value ($30,000 – $40,000).

Eric Clapton’s guitar, otherwise known as “Blackie” sold at auction for $959,500 in 2004 far beyond Christie’s Auction House Estimate of $100,000-150,000.

Whether you collect for re-sale, investment or just for bragging rights, now is a great time to own a piece of Rock & Roll history. The trick is finding the right item at the right price. and that’s where we come in. From the search for a single memento to securing items from a vaulted collection, we can help. Plus, we just love the hunt!


“The memorabilia they found for me rivals that of the Roll and Roll Hall of Fame”  Michael Lajtay, Founder/CEO of Jugular Incorporated; Board of Directors International Surfing Museum