Rare Acid Test Posters Flying High

February 18th, 2011

Of all the rock posters from the 1960s, few command as much attention as those created for the legendary acid tests in 1965 and 1966. Organized by author Ken Kesey and featuring music by the Grateful Dead, these events took place in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California, and were popularized by Tom Wolfe in his 1968 book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

Seen here are two rare posters that are being auctioned this weekend. The image on the left was designed by Wes Wilson, who created posters for the Beatles’ last concert at Candlestick Park, as well as shows at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium. It was probably used for numerous events, with the location hand-written below the question mark. This copy has been signed by both Kesey and Wilson—last time we checked, the bidding had topped $6,000. The poster on the right was designed by a guy named GUT, and advertises the last test, which was held at Winterland on Halloween in 1966. Even though the Grateful Dead is listed on the poster, the band was actually playing at California Hall that night, along with Quicksilver Messenger Service and Mimi Farina. Bidding for the graduation poster has crested $15,000, but the auction runs through Sunday so who knows how high it’ll go.

Update, 2/20/11: the final prices were $18,191.25 (including the buyer’s fee) for the ‘graduation’ poster, and $17,325 (ditto) for the signed piece.

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