Bob Dylan ‘Tarantula’ 1971 Promotional Poster Sells For £240

A rare promotional poster from 1971 for Bob Dylan’s Tarantula book has sold at auction for £240.

The wall print – described as ‘possibly the only one of its kind in existence’ was taken from the Tottenham Court Road tube station.

It is believed to have been pinned on the wall there to promote Dylan’s first book Tarantula, which was released in 1971.

The advertising poster for Bob Dylan's Tarantula book  taken from Tottenham Court Road tube station in 1971

The advertising poster for Bob Dylan’s Tarantula book taken from Tottenham Court Road tube station in 1971 and has now sold at auction for £240

Gerrards Auction Rooms, in Lancashire, England, sold the poster in a frame at their auction on August 1 for £240.

They described it as ‘Bob Dylan ”Tarantula” Wall Poster, 50c, x 76 cm. Possibly the only one, of its kind, still In existence. Retrieved from the wall of London’s Tottenham Court Rd. Tube Station In 1970/71‘.

Analysis: This was a really rare poster and I searched extensively online to find examples of it, but could not see anything similar anywhere. The auctioneer described the condition to me as having been creased along the centre where it had been folded twice, and with pin marks in each corner.

This leads me to believe that this poster had been pinned onto a notice board either in the tube station entrance, or on the walls inside the station.

There are some questions though…. namely where did the posters come from and why were more of these posters not kept?

There are two I have.

The first is that the publisher printed them (presumably MacGibbon and Kee as their logo is on the poster and book). We can assume that most of the posters would have been pulled down by workmen putting up new posters. But surely some would have been kept.  A publisher would surely print at least 200…. though why more weren’t made is strange.

Bob Dylan was not super-famous in England and he’d been pretty low-key on the music scene after cooling off in Woodstock then re-emerging for the Isle of Wight festival in 1969. So maybe only a small number were printed and put up at a few tube stations in central London. And given that the public – and even fans – at the time would not have been aware of the future and just how collectible Dylan would become, and how collectible advertising posters would be, they would not have been likely to pull down posters.

The second theory is this…

What if this poster was not made by the publishers? But by a fan. There were so many bootleggers around at the time, and crazed fans that saw Dylan as some sort of cult, that they could have made a few of their own posters.  Or perhaps the poster even came from within the Dylan camp itself. Could one of his group slapped up a few posters around the place?

In either case, it’s clear that only a very small number were made. It would explain why there is no other examples of the poster online. Surely people who had kept them would have sold them online by now.

In conclusion

There is no conclusion! The mystery about this poster is not solved. Perhaps another will be put up for sale soon…