This Iron Maiden t-shirt is one of a set of six vintage concert shirts that sold for $650 on Jan. 2.
The most memorable concert I ever attended might be AC/DC at Compton Terrace back in the ’80s, and I’m kicking myself for not buying concert t-shirts.
Not only would it be fun to see the shirt and relive the memory with my kids, but it could be worth significantly more now than what I would have paid for it.
A set of six vintage concert t-shirts from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Motley Crue sold in our Jan. 2 auction for $650.
In September, a Texas woman’s Selena concert t-shirt sold for more than $5,000 online, according to the San Antonio Current.
What determines the value of the concert shirt hanging in your closet, or tucked away in that box of mementos in the garage?
- Condition. The concert t-shirts don’t have to be like new, but they do need to be free of holes and stains. And it is likely to fetch a higher price if it still has an intact tag.
- Size. Believe it or not, sometimes size does matter. This is especially true with vintage t-shirts. An extra-large is likely to fetch the highest price because it will fit the greatest number of potential buyers, and concert t-shirt collectors typically want to be able to wear their collections.
- Early era t-shirts, from the ’60s, are typically purchased by vintage clothing collectors and can fetch the highest prices because they are the rarest. However, a ’70s era shirt is not necessarily more valuable than an ’80s or ’90s t-shirt. The value of these concert souvenirs will be determined more by the band the shirt is for and the rarity of the particular shirt.
- Print Type. Early ink and screen-printed t-shirts will bring in the highest value. This is largely because the shirts stand up to washing and drying better, meaning they’ll be in better condition when you try to sell them.
- Hype. After a big event, such as when Michael Jackson died or when a band forms a reunion concert, prices of their t-shirts and all memorabilia tend to increase. When newsworthy events happen to an artist or band, it’s a good time to sell, not buy, the t-shirt.
- Autographs. Oddly enough, autographs tend to decrease the value of a shirt. That’s because most buyers want to be able to wear the shirt. A shirt that has been autographed can’t be washed – making wearing it far less appealing.
As always, whether you’re collecting or selling, be sure to do your research to determine the value of the items first. Take advantage of free appraisal fairs, and if you’re in doubt, consult with a certified appraiser.
I’m looking forward to the day when we can return to large gatherings and concerts once again. And this time, I might just buy the shirt.
Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Appraisal in Glendale.