A silkscreen printed poster by Martin Sharp (1942-2013) promoting two shows at the Roundhouse in London, 1967, sold for a hammer price of £2800 against an estimate of just £60-80 at the auction in Stamford, Lincolnshire. The buyer from Australia was bidding online.
The shows featured Dantalians Chariot with Zoot Money and the Social Deviants and the Exploding Galaxy on September 22, 1967, and Jeff Beck, Ten Years After, Mark Boyle's Sensual Laboratory and Countess Veronica on September 29. The 2ft 6in x 20in (76 x 51cm) poster was published by Osiris Agency, 1967.
The private vendor was at Warwick University in the first year of its foundation. He was a fan of such bands in the 1960s and went to the concerts. He has had the psychedelic poster since then.
The artist responsible, Sharp, was a major figure in Sixties psychedelic culture. Born in Australia, he was a founding member of the controversial Oz magazine with Richard Neville and Richard Walsh. After various scrapes with the law, such as twice being charged with printing an obscene publication – and after overturning his convictions on appeal – Sharp ended up in London.
He and Neville set up the London version of Oz in 1967. A couple of years later Sharp left the mag. His music poster design skills cemented his place in Sixties psychedelia.
Sharp developed good connections for a start. According to his obituary in The Guardian: “Visiting the Speakeasy Club, he met Eric Clapton, who casually mentioned he was looking for lyrics. Sharp scrawled out the lines of Tales of Brave Ulysses, a poem he had just written. Clapton recorded the song for Cream's second album, Disraeli Gears (1967), and commissioned Martin to do the cover.”
Sharp returned to Australia at the start of the 1970s and his work is now celebrated – for example, his work now features in the Victoria and Albert Museum collections.
Judging by past results on thesaleroom.com listings, the Batemans result is an impressive one. Other Sharp posters have done well, however.
Essex auction house Sworders sold Jimi Hendrix, Explosion, 1968, for £500 in June this year against an estimate of £200-300. It was designed by Sharp from a photograph by Linda Eastman McCartney.
A month later, the Dominic Winter saleroom in Gloucestershire offered two Sharp designs for Oz magazine: Oz is a New Magazine poster, and another for Issue Number Four, (1967). Estimated at £200-300, they made £520 hammer.
Going back a bit further, in November 2015 Omega auction sold an original Bob Dylan classic Blowing In The Mind poster by Sharp for more than double top estimate at £1050.
Cream of the crop
The same Batemans vendor has also consigned a Cream poster to the auction house’s January 13 sale. The very conservative £60-80 estimate reflects the very plain design rather than the date: November 4, 1966, at the University of Warwick.
Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce had made their debut as Cream in late July, 1966, so this was an early concert by the super-talented trio. The band's debut album, Fresh Cream, was recorded and released in 1966.