They say that if you can remember the Sixties then you weren’t really there. If that’s true, it poses an odd question – can you really be nostalgic for something you don’t remember?
It seems that you probably can, because 1960s memorabilia is one of the most popular areas of the collectibles market. A generation of Baby Boomers that spent their youth in a cloud of Purple Haze smoke and guitar feedback are now buying back those memories, and the prices they’re paying are higher than Jerry Garcia.
When it comes to 60s counter-culture memorabilia the epicentre is surely Haight-Ashbury, the area of San Francisco that gave birth to the Summer of Love and inspired a generation to ruin bathtubs across the country whilst tie-dying their clothes.
And it looks like Heritage has hit the Golden Gate mother-load, with their latest Music and Memorabilia sale in Dallas on July 29. It features one of the best collections of original psychedelic artwork and rock posters to appear on the market in years, along with original photography, guitars and even an original ‘Pinball Wizard’ pinball machine.
The sale features works by some of San Francisco’s most celebrated artists of the day, including Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, David Singer and Victor Moscoso. There is also original poster artwork for gigs at legendary venues such as the Fillmore Auditorium, which was home to some epic freak-outs by The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Winged Eyeball Original Poster Art by Alton Kelley
It may seem inappropriate to some that artwork born from an anti-capitalist counter culture is now selling for tens of thousands of dollars. You could say the ‘suits’ and ‘bread-heads’ won out in the end. But most of these collectors are likely the same people that spent their teenage years staring at Grateful Dead album covers and trying to wash the smell of incense from their kaftans.
And as they reach retirement age, they’re using their hard-earned cash to conserve these items as important artefacts from a truly remarkable period.
It’s hard to listen to listen to a Jimi Hendrix solo and not feel a pang of nostalgia for the 1960s – even for me, and I was born in 1978. There’s something wonderfully evocative about the music and artwork from the decade that can capture the imagination of any age group.
And it’s nice to know that the most important cultural artefacts are being preserved, whether it’s for future generations or simply those with hazy memories.
Image: Heritage Auction Galleries