Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Strange Affair of the Forged Family Dog Handbills

Although the tiniest bit off subject, Corry’s recent discussions on early Family Dog shows bought to mind the subject of a few Family Dog handbills that were forged circa 1980.

This picture shows both an FD-3 handbill for a Butterfield, Quicksilver show put on by the Family Dog at the Fillmore and an FD-6 handbill for the second of the Family Dog shows at the Avalon Ballroom. This show featured the Grass Roots, the Sons of Adam together with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Of particular note are the annotations Reprinted Flyer and Genuine Counterfeit.

A number of years ago Jacaebor Kastor, who was still running Psychedelic Solutions in New York City at the time, discovered that some of the early FD handbills had been forged. These bootlegged handbills included FD-1, FD-3, FD-6, FD-9 and FD-12, and to all but the trained eye of the scholar were indeed of a good quality. This is of course borne out by the forgeries not being identified for nearly twenty years.

Eric King’s authoritative guide for Bay Area paper collectors, or more specifically Family Dog and Fillmore series collectors, provides guidance for distinguishing the originals from the bootlegs. However, early Family Dog handbills are rare – in some cases very rare. At one time, a near complete print run of an early handbill were cut in to thirds, turned over and used as scrap as the office had run out of notepads. To buy original copies of these five Family Dog handbills from the folks at Wolfgang’s Vault today would cost a cool $15,742.

So the annotations? It seems that upon discovery of the forgeries, Jay and Eric managed to obtain a reasonable quantity of the handbills and took the opportunity to stamp them as Genuine Fake, Genuine Counterfeit or Reprinted Flyer. The use of the word genuine was perhaps a nod toward the quality of the product, whilst the stamp would hopefully put an end to any possible deception. An interesting aside of course is the inclusion of these items in Eric’s guide makes them collectable in their own right. And the cost of a set of five? Perhaps $742 nowadays – but not $15,742.

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