Home Money Seventies nostalgia is driving a music memorabilia boom

Seventies nostalgia is driving a music memorabilia boom

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Highly sought after: Elton John's platform boots

Highly sought after: Elton John’s platform boots

Elton John fans have the chance to buy a souvenir from the pop star’s brilliant career when a collection of his possessions goes up for auction at Christie’s in New York on Wednesday.

Among the 900 items on offer is an ivory and gold jumpsuit worn by singer Tiny Dancer in one of his first stage performances in 1971, which is expected to fetch up to £9,700. The set was borrowed to make costumes for the star’s 2019 biopic Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton.

Those who fancy tinkling Elton’s own ivories can take home his Yamaha grand piano, on which he is said to have written several of his Grammy Award-winning songs, for an estimated £39,000.

A pair of silver platform boots with red leather letters E and J on the sides and worn during the 1970s is expected to fetch up to £8,000.

Interest in ’70s music memorabilia is booming as investors realize they can own their own piece of performance history while also enjoying a bond with their favorite singer or band.

The Elton John sale is the latest in a series of high-profile auctions of musicians including Freddie Mercury, Eric Clapton and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.

In September, buyers from more than 50 countries, including Japan, Mexico and Brazil, purchased 1,406 items from the Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own auction. Auction house Sotheby’s says the £40 million sale demonstrates “the charm and fascination that Freddie Mercury continues to wield today.”

Among the most sought-after items was a sheet of paper with lyrics to the hit Don’t Stop Me Now, which sold for £317,500 and a solid silver mustache comb, expected to fetch £400, sold for more than £. 150,000.

Claire Tole-Moir of Bonhams auction house says the 1970s are a great time to collect items as it was a very important time for music. “This was the decade where creativity and diversity flourished, boundaries were pushed and with that came eccentric melodies, costumes, dance routines and lyrics,” she says.

“Items associated with the musicians who were part of this seminal movement are considered important and therefore collectible.”

Martin Hughes, auctioneer at Wessex Auction Rooms, says most music collectors are driven by nostalgia and a desire to recapture how they felt when they heard an artist for the first time.

“Investing in music-related items is a real balancing act,” he says. “Clothes and general memorabilia of musical icons will, of course, have a broader appeal and potentially be a safer long-term investment.”

Last year, 300 Fleetwood Mac contracts and letters documenting the band’s rise to fame sold at auction for more than £20,000.

The owner of the collection, Clifford Adams, worked as the group’s manager, agent and co-songwriter from 1967 to 1974. A letter from the band’s founder, Peter Green, explaining why he left the group, sold for £2,000, while another bidder paid £460 for his driving licence.

Meanwhile, a set of sheets documenting the band’s performance schedule sold for £4,400, beating the estimate of £400-£600. Hughes says paper items, such as banknotes or brochures, are very popular because they were never designed to be souvenirs.

‘Scarcity sells. “I had the great pleasure of selling a large private collection of music booklets, flyers and posters by renowned artists such as The Who, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac,” he says. “The seller said, ‘I didn’t think anyone would want them,’ when in fact the collection sold for more than £60,000.”

When looking to start your own collection, consider the popularity of the group or singer first, recommends Claire Howell, director of music and film at auction house Hansons.

“Artists like David Bowie still have a high collectible value that contemporary artists like Taylor Swift don’t have,” he says. ‘It’s amazing what people buy and aspire to own from a great musician. I once sold the keys to John Lennon’s car.

You might even be lucky enough to have souvenirs at home if you went to concerts and bought records in the 1970s. An old Rolling Stones tour program and a ticket found at home could be worth up to £200, says Howell.

Meanwhile, the acetate records used to test a single before its release could be worth hundreds of pounds. An acetate of a David Bowie album could be worth up to £600, while one of rock band T. Rex could sell for £750, says Howell. Be sure to verify the provenance of an item that was owned or signed by an artist before making a purchase.

Hughes says: ‘The world of forgeries is as widespread in musical memorabilia as it is in the art world. Buy things from reputable sources, such as specialty auctions.

Often, items sold at auction come with a certificate to prove their authenticity, but if you are unsure whether an item is genuine, you can also speak to the auction house.

If an item was mass-produced, such as a vinyl record or CD, consider its condition and rarity before making a purchase, Tole-Moir recommends. “Depending on your budget, try to buy the best example out there,” she says. “Do your research and see what has been on the market before and how prices have behaved.”

An original copy of the Beatles’ White Album that was donated to the British Heart Foundation charity shop sold for £2,350 on eBay.

The album was one of 10,000 copies made and features 30 songs, including Blackbird and Dear Prudence.

In comparison, the 50th anniversary edition of the same vinyl is worth less than £50.

But above all, buy items you love, he says. A record you listened to as a teenager may only be worth a few pounds now, but to you it’s priceless.

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