1966-FD-26-OP-1-Grateful Dead-Avalon Ballroom Original Poster-THE ICONIC SKULL & ROSES! The KING OF CONCERT POSTERS! CGC Graded 7.5

closed on Friday, July 17, 2020

Final Auction Price
*Final prices include buyers premium
Starting bid: $1.00

Every collectible marketplace has a "Holy Grail" item. This is an item that is ALWAYS the star of any auction in which it appears and the object of every collector's attention.  In baseball cards it's the Mickey Mantle Rookie Card. In comics it's the Batman and Superman Number 1's. In rare stamps it's the famous Inverted Jenny. In coins it's the Ultra High Relief $20.00 Saint Gaudens gold piece. And in concert posters it's the Grateful Dead FD-26 "Skull and Roses"! Importantly all of the other Holy Grails noted above are worth Five Hundred Thousand to Two Million Dollars each!


In each and every case a Holy Grail Collector's Item is created when a perfect storm of multiple positive attributes are combined into a single historic issue that becomes the object of desire for every participant in a collectibles market.  


Let's examine what makes the Grateful Dead "Skull and Roses" the king of all collectible concert posters:


1) Iconic art. This world famous piece of art was designed by the legendary 1960’s concert poster artists Stanley Mouse and the late great Alton Kelley. The story of Mouse and Kelley searching the stacks at the San Francisco library for an appropriate illustration for the poster is well documented. The duo discovered this illustration by 19th century artist Edward Joseph Sullivan for an edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.


2) Documented Rarity. It is estimated that just 2500 Original First Printings were produced! Probably 5-15% of these have survived the past 54 years in ANY condition.


3) Legendary Band. In addition to iconic art and documented rarity this poster was created for the Grateful Dead one of the most beloved bands of all time. For many historians music fans and collectors "The Dead" are  a major cultural touchstone of the 1960's and all this era represents.


4) Historical Importance. This poster defines the term “historically important”. The “Skull and Roses” from this very poster would be appropriated by the Dead for the rest of their careers and go on to be a world famous internationally recognized logo for the band. 


5) Documented History of Record Prices. When a confluence of multiple positive attributes combine to give an item "Holy Grail" status a history of steadily increasing values invariably follows. This is a result of simple supply and demand. ....a large group of collectors chasing a tiny available supply. When you add in the fact that the vintage concert poster market is still in its infancy and exploding in popularity you have a highly combustible situation. Collectors that have been following the vintage concert poster marketplace have seen this play out in real time generally and with the "Skull and Roses" specifically. 


The "Skull and Roses" given its "Holy Grail" status for the past 50+ years has ALWAYS been one of the most valuable vintage concert posters ever created. A couple years ago we auctioned off a CGC graded 9.8 specimen for a then record $56 400 which can be found here. This record was later obliterated when another specimen graded 9.8 by CGC commanded $118 000!


Because of this proven track record most knowledgeable collectors believe that if and when a vintage concert poster trades for $1 000 000 it will be a "Skull and Roses" that is the first issue to claim this honor.


Of course with the value of Mint Condition specimens now in the stratosphere the great majority of collectors are turning their attention to the few specimens that are 100% Original and free of restoration that still exhibit superlative eye appeal and that can STILL be acquired for pennies on the dollar compared to what other "Holy Grail"collectible items trade for in other marketplaces. 


For example we recently auctioned off a specimen of the "Skull and Roses" that was graded by CGC as 5.0 for $20 400. That can be seen here.


Fresh to Market Provenance. The specimen offered is as high quality of  a specimen as a collector could ever wish for while still remaining within the budget of an advanced collector. This specimen previously unknown has been carefully preserved and in the possession of the same individual for the past 54 years. This is the first time it being made available to collectors anywhere. 


A careful examination of this poster will reveal that the paper is remarkably well preserved with 100% complete edges with no nicks cuts or tears. The colors are fresh and the registration...often a problem with this issue...is virtually unimprovable!


And best of all it's one of the very few specimens to be offered at public auction that has been independently authenticated and graded by CGC.


In conclusion if we were to forced to choose just ONE vintage concert poster to have in our collection the Legendary Grateful Dead FD-26 "Skull and Roses" would be the poster we would choose. 


This issue always has been ...and always will be...the Holy Grail of this hobby. As such the specimen offered here is sure to bring the new owner much enjoyment now and the appreciation for this issue is sure to grow more with each passing year!


Estimate: $12 500 - $25 000


Poster – Grateful Dead Avalon Ballroom

Catalog #FD-26

Grade – CGC 7.5

Bands/Bill - Grateful Dead Oxford Circle

Venue - Avalon Ballroom

City - San Francisco California    

Date - 9/16-17/1966

Dimensions - 14 3/16” x 19 15/16”

Printing -  OP-1 Original Pre-Concert First Printing

Artist - Stanley Mouse Alton Kelley 

Series/Promoter - Family Dog

Paper - Vellum

Condition Details - 100% Original with no restoration of any kind. Superb eye appeal. 100% full edges with no nicks cuts or tears. Colors are bright and fresh. Registration is excellent and rare for the issue. 1 pinhole upper left 2 pinholes upper right 3 small pinholes bottom left 1 pinhole bottom right. Touch of handling and toning as typical for 50+ year old poster. View the detailed high res photo of this lot. Click on the thumbnail photo to see an enlarged photo. Click a second time on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the enlarged photo. A super high res image with every millimeter will now be clearly displayed. For a personalized eyewitness examination call 410-464-6180 11:00 am to 6:00pm eastern.


*****This poster is available for inspection at our gallery by appointment. *****


*A 20% Buyers Premium will be added to the final hammer price of this lot.*