1978 Sex Pistols poster up for auction at Christie's is a fraud?


Ultrasparky says this Sex Pistols poster that Christie's will auction on June 23rd with an estimated value of $2,000 - $3,000 is phony.

You know how you can tell? Typeface analysis. And the gratuitous use of Comic Sans isn't the only clue.

(Looks like they yanked it already.)

Sex Pistols Poster Poseurs (Thanks, Mister Jalopy!)


  1. I don’t think such a poster would bother to list the year of the show, either.

    Most music posters I’ve seen have stuff like “this weekend” or “Jan 8th”. The only time they list the year is when they follow the 1/8/78 format.

  2. the poster was taken out of the auction 2 days ago when the folks at Typophile got wind of this.

  3. The people you mention weren’t alone in questioning it or sharing information on it. The San Antonio promoter, Joe Pugleise among others brought the fraud to the attention of Christies but they weren’t concerned apparently. Lots of San Antonians discussed it on Keep San Antonio Lame facebook group. Also typeface information was uncovered on gigposters.com.

    Here is the story from the point of view of people in San Antonio:


  4. Besides the obvious year thing(as if they’re making it so The Doctor can know he’s in 1978 Texas) it’s odd that they’d make it so hard to read at a glance. From a design standpoint if I were to make a poster in that style I’d make sure that “Sex Pistols” and “Randy’s Rodeo” were visible from at least three feet away. Whoever made this had no idea about design or the basic Encyclopedia Brown issue of putting “1978” on it(“No Jerry, that’s a false coin, you can tell because they put BC on the coin, why would they mark Before Christ if they didn’t know who he was?”)

  5. I remember several years ago that Christie’s had an autographed copy of Jimi Hendrix’s War Heroes up for auction until someone pointed out that the album was released 2 years after Hendrix died.

  6. It is an anachronism for this poster, but including the year is getting more common – not standard by any means but definitely gaining traction particularly with custom work done by notable artists.

  7. Anybody with any (deep, disturbing, thorough) interest in the Pistols knows that’s not what their flyers looked like.

    Actually, other than the San Fran show, I’m not sure they had flyers at all.

  8. Posters are collected and are memorabilia for performers and fans alike. The designers, promoters, and venues know this.

    So it’s actually pretty common to put the year on band posters – more so as the band’s popularity rises.
    But it’s also true of small bands that happen to get an opening slot for a big name, and/or they play at a venue way out of their league for some reason. You can bet that the small band is going to put the year on their posters for their own memorabilia purposes, if nothing else.

    Still, it’s busted as a fake, just not because of the appearance of the year in the date.

  9. “Posters are collected and are memorabilia for performers and fans alike. The designers, promoters, and venues know this.”

    Not for punk bands in 1978 they weren’t. I have a huge collection of punk and hardcore flyers from the 80s and none of them have the year. These things were run off as cheaply and as quickly as possible and plastered on phone poles. They weren’t designed to last more than a week. I have dozens of flyers that don’t even list the month but I can’t think of any that list the year.

  10. #20. My punk fliers from the late 70s, 80s, 90s don’t give years. Even new stuff doesn’t give a year unless the flier was done by someone as Sellable Art rather than just making a neat looking flier. And that’s stuff that started in the 1990s after punk broke. I’ve got a ton of fliers but I’m not going to start flipping through them looking for years.

  11. Looking at posters on my wall that I have gotten at live shows, they all seem to have the year on them. But those are all from the past 6 years or so, and I have absolutely no knowledge about what the practice was in the ’70s. (And this particular poster is obviously a fake for other reasons, even if printing the year doesn’t give it away.)

  12. I could be wrong, but doesn’t it look like the “T” is Texas was “borrowed” from the Thrasher Magazine logo? And by the way, I don’t believe the letters in the Thrasher logo initially came from a font; I believe the logo was illustrated, as was the Metallica logo, incidentally, which was hand-drawn by James Hetfield!

    However, I would bet that sometime within the last five to ten years, someone created a “Thrasher” font (sort of like the “Santa Carla” font, which includes the letters used to make the Santa Cruz Skateboards font), which is probably where the “T” in question came from.

    By the way, is there a name for these “logo rip-off” fonts? I’m talking about fonts like Coffin Nails (Camel cigarettes), Kirok (Star Trek), Stag Wart (Star Wars), and my personal favorite, Pastor of Muppets (Metallica, natch!) Anyone? Bueller?

  13. Yeah.. It is really looking fraud because most posters have stuff like date or day wise but in these they follow the 1/8/78 format.

  14. Yep, pretty sure this is fake. Because they printed the year (although there’s other reasons too).

  15. Comic Sans is only punk when used to deliberately annoy people. Other than that, it belongs to passive-aggressive management types, sad-eyed office clowns who are desperate to be liked, and the kinds of people who find Garfield comics funny.

    Should we ever get an actual fascist/totalitarian dictatorship, all the signs prohibiting photography and warning you of the penalties for not wearing your RFID card will be written in Comic Sans, to seem more “friendly”. The original Big Brother would have approved.

  16. Many years ago, I saw a Ramones poster for sale at a flea market. It had the date of one of their early shows, and a photo of the band with CJ. :-/

  17. Adding the year to gig posters is not a recent phenomenon. The venue The Kaleidoscope put the year on many of their posters in 1968. And Gunther Kieser was putting the year on his posters as far back as 1953.

  18. Putting the year on posters is more of a European style, although it is gaining favor over here as well.

    I’ll put the year on a design if the design works with it, but more often than not, just the month and day.

  19. How can you authenticate a photocopied poster, anyway? Many of the originals in our collection were run off at the cheapest copy centers and you can’t tell what’s first generation and what isn’t. You have to be pretty good to tell a Xerox of a Xerox.

  20. #25: FYI, the Thrasher logo is based on the font Banco, designed in 1951 by Roger Excoffon. Probably redrawn to get the curve effect, though.

  21. Nup.

    You can tell stylisticly. This stuff came directly out of

    a.) Brion Gysion’s cut-up (if you were intellectual about it)

    b.) grab a few letters straight out of the newspaper (if you were being practical)


    a.) means the style comes from the violence done to the line of the text – so the regular spacing, nice little regular non-angular lines on which the letters sit etc – have nothing to do with the style of the time. That’s what you were trying to disrupt

    b.) the variety of fonts is completely alien to the way this stuff was produced, it was mean’t to be cheap, knocked out hard and fast with a hint of menace from kidnap notes. This example is far too fey and “nice” for the time.

    Punks were very *very* in your face and they didn’t care two bits for the design niceites this thing betrays.

  22. There are some copies of that “fraudulent” publicity for sale since 1992!
    Its seems few collectors have been interested in getting them for a couple of tostones at one stall in Tianguis cultural El Chopo, Mexico City…Go and check!

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