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Up For Auction First Ever CGC Certified Copy of Early Grateful Dead Scarce Cardboard Poster

Up For Auction First Ever CGC Certified Copy of Early Grateful Dead Scarce Cardboard Poster

The Psychedelic Art Exchange is pleased to offer collectors rare opportunity to own a painfully scarce and valuable 54 year old Grateful Dead concert poster in our upcoming December CGC Auction, This cardboard rarity will appeal to both Grateful Dead and Boxing Style poster collectors alike. The poster is the first and only independently certified copy known to-date and is in completely original condition with no restoration whatsoever.

This example has the distinction of being THE “catalog copy”, as is noted on the CGC certification label. This poster is featured in the” Art of Rock” (plate 2.313, page 226 -1987 Abbeville Press). The Art of Rock is an illustrated coffee table book that sparked major interest in the concert poster collecting hobby. The book has since become the ultimate reference resource for collectors.

This super early Grateful Dead poster from 1966 catches the band as they were evolving from their primal beginnings as the “house band” for Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, to a fierce improvisational blues/rock band with a heavy psychedelic streak. Within a few weeks of this concert, the Dead would travel to Los Angeles to record their debut album for Warner Brothers.

Although the band played most of their shows in San Francisco in 1966, this show was held just outside the city in San Rafael at the Santa Venetia Armory. This was a small National Guard armory in Marin County that, according to speculation, was also used as an early rehearsal space for the band. See

The photograph featured on the poster is a rare early publicity shot of the Grateful Dead taken by Haight Ashbury photographer Gene Anthony. It catches the band trying to look serious while showing off their matching Beatle boots. The layout is typical of Boxing style ads, and the aesthetic of this poster is a noticeable exception to the psychedelic concert posters that were all the rage at the time.

The poster was printed by Tilghman Press of Oakland California. Tilghman Press was an early African American owned printing business responsible for creating a significant number of R&B posters in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. They were known for quality work, and this poster is no exception. The classic letterpress style, matched with Tilghman’s characteristic split fountain printing, knocks this one out of the park. Collectors of cardboard posters will be overjoyed with this genre crossing beauty.

Grateful Dead posters from 1966 are among the most demanded by experienced collectors. The Dead in ’66 were just having fun and never expected to become a cultural phenomenon. The Dead’s most famous poster, FD -26-OP-1 “Skull and Roses” was also created in 1966. It has recently become the first Grateful Dead poster to cross the $100,000 auction mark, a significant milestone for San Francisco Ballroom posters. Just a few years earlier, you could find the best copies for $10,000-$20,000. Though the FD-26 has set the pace for psychedelic concert posters, bear in mind that it was believed to be printed in original quantities of around 2500-3000. In comparison, this offering was printed in the dozens. To find one in any condition is a feat in itself.

The copy being auctioned by PAE is the first independently graded example. The poster was graded 5.5. by the poster graders at CGC. CGC is an independent collectibles grading service located in Sarasota Florida that has extensive experience in grading comic books. The grader notes for this poster mention creases, staple holes and small tears from the staple pulls. Additionally, the grader notes also reference fingerprints as a flaw. For accuracy, these are the result of the printing process, not after the fact..

While considering grade as a factor it’s important to acknowledge these posters in the context of their original intent, to be posted. They were pinned up for advertising and subjected to the elements.That they survived at all is remarkable. While It’s critical to recognize the technical grade, It’s equally important to consider overall eye appeal. Cardboard poster collectors will view this specimen at near the top of the scale. The inks are bright and strong, the edges are complete with no tears or missing paper. The cardboard is stiff and strong and the borders are full with sharp corners.

PAE believes that this poster is in a class of its own in terms of scarcity and condition. This lot represents a unique opportunity for collectors to own one of most unique Grateful Dead posters of all time in top condition. The PAE December CGC auction will begin December. 8 at 6:00PM and will close on December 17 at 9:00PM ET. If you have any questions need additional images or condition details please email

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