Collecting Isle of Wight Festival Memorabilia
If you might have read the page on this website about me, then you’ll know that I’ve been collecting IoW Festival Memorabilia for almost 30 years. For me, it’s a very fun and interesting hobby which I am very passionate about. However, for some other collectors I know it’s become, at times, very much an obsession. How deeply you might decide to get involved is entirely up to you, but please be warned - what could start as a small, harmless hobby could well develop into something more serious (and expensive) over time!
In describing all of the wonderful pieces listed on this website we have tried to give some indication (where possible) of our opinion on its potential rarity. Obviously the rarer an item is, the more you might expect to pay for it should you find one for sale. But that’s not to say that a very admirable, interesting, and eye-catching collection cannot be within your (relatively easy) grasp, because it can. Budget is something which may well play a part in how deeply you delve (I won’t reveal how much I’ve spent on my own collection over the years, because my wife may well end up reading this; you just need to know that it's a tidy sum), but fear not! The good news is that for a reasonably small outlay, you can get yourselves started with some very cool items which will also look fabulous when you show them off to your friends.
Where to start? Thanks to the internet, we no longer have to trawl around car boot sales on wet and windy Sunday mornings to stumble across some great little bargains (although one of my key-pieces was recently discovered at a car boot sale). Sites like eBay and Gumtree (even Wightbay, if you live on the Isle of Wight) prove to be good initial hunting grounds, and you don’t even have to get out of your armchair. I would suggest starting with the basic stuff – tickets, posters, programmes etc. All fairly easily sourced, and none of which are going to require you to sell a kidney. I’d particularly recommend the following items as a great place to start, which I’d imagine would cost you no more than a couple of hundred quid in total:
1969 Weekend Ticket
1970 Weekend Ticket
1969 Programme (without the Fender advert)
“But how to tell a fake?” I hear you ask. Good question. When you’re starting out, of course you should proceed with a little caution, especially if you’re making purchases based upon online photographs rather than seeing things “in the flesh”. However once you get into the swing of things, you’ll soon develop a better understanding of what you’re actually looking at. There are always going to be unscrupulous people in life who purposely try to sell items that aren’t genuine, but to be honest you don’t come across them that often in this game (there is a famously reported story from a few years back of some people on The Island who had been heavily involved in printing and passing off fake posters, but thankfully they got found out). There are also people out there who offer things for sale which are clearly reprints, yet they do so in complete innocence because they lack the “inside knowledge” that a collector will have. A few of the more-famous posters have been legitimately reproduced over the years, (the 1990s reprints of the ’70 Drummer Boy poster and the ’70 programme, shown here, are typical examples, which we have described elsewhere on this site), and indeed in my early days of collecting I fell foul to spending £50 on one of these afore-mentioned reprinted programmes, but you live and learn, right? If only I'd known then what I know now.
You might even wonder why some things for sale are in remarkably good condition, considering that they are 50+ years old. Well this shouldn’t necessarily be something to be concerned about. For example, many of the tickets that you might see for sale may have come from books of tickets that were never actually sold at the time, so you’d expect them to be “fresh from the packet”. And besides, given the choice of an immaculately presented example of a ticket, or a dog-eared one that was once scrunched up in someone’s back pocket for an entire weekend, I know which one will look better in my collection, or displayed on my wall, don’t you?
Once you get collecting, you also soon learn whether an item is legitimate or not largely by its feel, especially where tickets and posters are concerned. For example the type of paper that was used for the officially produced posters is quite distinctive. I’m no printer, so I’m unable to give an expert opinion on the type of paper used, however when a newly acquired poster arrives in it’s postage tube, you’ll know the feel of the paper instantly – slightly thicker than normal paper - almost like a parchment; it feels aged, and it unfurls just like a treasure map! How exciting? (Not that I’ve unfurled many treasure maps in my time, but you get the picture)
Just because these things started life on The Isle of Wight, doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s going to be the best place to start looking. Whilst every now and again a previously undiscovered, long forgotten stash of posters might be uncovered in a barn find somewhere in Freshwater or Newport, much of it will have long-left The Island’s shores by now; either taken home by the festival goers themselves, or purchased much later by collectors and dealers from all over the world. To put this into some context, my collection has been sourced from everywhere between Cowes and Arizona, so it's truly an international thing.
One final piece of advice: take care of your investments! My personal favourites are the posters; they look fantastic when properly framed on your wall, and always provide a great topic of conversation when you have guests round. However if exposed to too much sunlight then those beautifully vivid colours on that new Drummer Boy poster which you just spent your hard-earned cash on will fade faster than Kris Kristofferson's popularity at East Afton. And I learned this the hard way! Just flick back to the 1970 page and you'll see what I mean. Both shown versions of the Drummer Boy poster are mine; the faded one on the left has been hanging on my wall for over 25 years; the vivid one on the right has spent that time rolled up in a cardboard tube... So, do yourself a favour - display your collection proudly, but do it in a darkened room. Even better, fork out a little more on UV-resistant glass at the picture framer's - you may think it a bit excessive now, but you'll thank me in time...
Well I hope that the above might have fanned the flames of your interest a little. Now it’s up to you to get out there and start picking up a few "fiery creations" of your own! But if you need any help, guidance or advice, then please feel free to contact us with your questions via the “contact” page on this website – we’re always more than happy to help.