Counterfeit UK Osiris/Hapshash Posters

(click on photo to enlarge)

One area I’ve been researching extensively is the UK concert posters made in the 1960’s by Osiris, especially those designed by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat (Michael English and Nigel Weymouth.) A few years back “newly discovered” copies of some of these came to the market in significant numbers—one story was that these were found by a former driver for The Beatles, another was the classic “the family of the original printer found them in the attic.”

Brad Rogers of has done pioneering research into this topic, and has shown convincingly that these “newly discovered” posters are nothing more than recent (and very high quality) counterfeits, being sold as genuine. I’ve spent a good deal of time speaking with Brad and comparing his examples to a small collection I bought (which had been in storage for 20+ years and were thus beyond the shadow of a doubt genuine.)

The counterfeits include:
Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore (the most common bootleg)
Pink Floyd CIA-UFO
The Who “I Can See For Miles”
The Who at the Saville Theater
Fifth Dimension Club Leicester
Tomorrow My White Bicycle
Arthur Brown OA 501
Julie Felix at the Royal Albert Hall
The Move at The Marquee
Pink Floyd at the UFO double size by Michael English.

The best way to know if a poster is genuine is to compare it to a known original—but if that isn’t possible, here’s the short version:

The originals are silkscreens, while the bootlegs are instead printed.
On the originals you can easily see areas where the screens (and thus layers of ink) didn’t exactly line up, and there is a bit of one
color bleeding out from underneath another color. There are also areas where a lot of one color of ink is built up over lot of another color ink, and there is a three dimensional aspect to the color. On the bootlegs, the ink flat as can be–clearly not ink on top of ink. On some of the original posters, you can see tiny silver flecks of ink over the solid color fields.

There is a lack of detail in the reproductions as well. And the paper used for the bootlegs just isn’t the same—as Brad says, “it looks brand new, because it is brand new.” I agree—my “like new” originals, carefully stored for more than 20 years, have aged—the paper has mellowed over 40 years. The bootlegs are bright white on the reverse.

For a really detailed explanation of how to tell the difference, I highly recommend Brad’s site—his research is without equal on this obscure but important subject:

The scan at the top is an original Who at the Saville Osiris/Hapshash poster available at Recordmecca—where we also have never bootlegged Jimi Hendrix at the Saville and Soft Machine/Arthur Brown at the UFO posters as well.

(and thanks Brad, for much info I’ve included here.)

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