For frequent concertgoers, heading to the merch table is often a must: it’s where you pick up your T-shirts, albums, and, of course, concert posters.
Concert poster collecting is on par with movie poster collecting, with a vast number of enthusiasts carefully scouring flea markets, secondhand stores, the internet and local venues for their next addition. Whatever the type of collection you have — vintage treasures or a chronicle of your concert experiences — displaying them in the right poster frames will not only make your posters look good, but it will keep them that way.
History of Music Poster Collecting
Regardless of use — concerts, movie or other events — posters grew in popularity and use in the 19th century, first in France and then in New York and London, thanks to advancements in lithography. They were, as they are now, advertisements collected as art, and even then were they carefully preserved.
Music posters were advertised as well, but the most popular among collectors are from the early rock and roll era to modern day. These posters range from the so-called “boxing style,” characterized by the easily readable block lettering and messaging found on posters of the 1940s to 1950s, to the 1960s’ psychedelic posters, popularized in part by the Fillmore series at the famed venue in San Francisco, and beyond.
These posters can fetch prices at auction in the thousands. At an auction in 2017, for example, a 1955 concert poster for Bill Haley and the Comets — a boxing-style poster — sold for nearly $18,000, far above the $2,000 to $5,000 estimate.
Types of Band and Music Posters
Just like movie posters, concert poster sizes differ depending on their age and use. They generally don’t have standard poster sizes, but there are common ones.
Handbills and Postcards
The smallest band poster is the postcard, which can measure, at its smallest, 4x8 inches. Handbills, appropriately named as they were handed out to advertise for the concert, measure 8.5x5, 8.5x10 or 8.5x11.
Venue Posters and Window Cards
Posters hung outside shops, on telephone poles and other locations are appropriately called window cards. These posters are found in sizes 14x22 and 14x20, the latter of which is most common among the Fillmore series; you may also find window cards in the larger “jumbo size” of 22x28. Large concert posters — the ones displayed in and outside the venue itself — range from 11x17 on the small side to 24x36.
Framing Contemporary and Vintage Concert Posters
Whether you are looking to preserve your collection of concert posters or simply display them temporarily, choosing their frame is much like any framing project.
For those looking to simply decorate their living spaces with concert posters that can be easily replaced, regular foam board is suitable choice for mount board. With valuable vintage posters, on the other hand, a better choice is an acid-free foam board.
Replaceable concert posters can be dry mounted (i.e. permanently attached to the mount board). For vintage posters, use a reversible mounting method such as hinging with paper and starch adhesive.
Mat board isn’t generally necessary when framing concert posters, but you may want to add a layer of protection and a splash decoration to your posters. Certain 1960s-era concert posters look particularly striking when paired with black mat board or mat in a complementary color.
Again, the quality of the mat board depends on your desire to protect the print — if it’s a poster you’d like to protect, opt for archival quality or look for the term “acid-free.”
Window cards, handbills and smaller posters can be framed with either glass or acrylic glazing. Make sure to use glazing with UV protection if you are looking to preserve the print. For 24x36 concert posters, you may choose to frame with acrylic as it is lighter weight and is less likely to break — important features if you expect to move the framed poster around.
Frames for Concert Posters
Concert posters can be framed in either wood or metal, but the sleek, unobtrusive style of metal frames may work best for those graphic-heavy psychedelic posters of the 1960s and straightforward boxing-style posters. Metal frames may also be a better choice for valuable vintage posters, as you’ll need to take extra steps if using a wood frame to ensure the poster never comes into contact with wood.
The frame you choose depends entirely on your taste — if you want to frame a 19th-century poster in modern metal and a modern poster in ornate wood, you can find the right poster frame to complement both your style and the style of the poster.