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home | Acid Test Chronicles | Acid Test Chronicles - Page 5 (Minia . . .
 

This poster has long been considered to be a reprint.  Brand new information has proven this to be innacurate.  Read the incredible story below about how I first discovered this poster was an "Acid Test Graduation" poster for Pranksters and attendees to take home. These were given away by Paul Foster and several Pranksters at the Acid Test Graduation ceremony.
They were not reprinted in 1987 as many people have falsely been led to believe.
This poster has long been considered to be a reprint. Brand new information has proven this to be innacurate. Read the incredible story below about how I first discovered this poster was an "Acid Test Graduation" poster for Pranksters and attendees to take home. These were given away by Paul Foster and several Pranksters at the Acid Test Graduation ceremony. They were not reprinted in 1987 as many people have falsely been led to believe.

Acid Test Chronicles - Page 5 (Miniature Handbill Version of the Paul Foster poster / Formerly known as Norman Hartweg poster)

   The Paul Foster (Acid Test Graduation) Poster

   One day I was online looking around and found an ad from "winelady" selling a smaller version of this famous...for now we will say "Norman Hartweg" designed poster, "Can You Pass the Acid Test?". Well, being a rather naive person in the acid test collecting world at the time, in 2003, I jumped at the chance to buy this. The guy wanted $2500 for it. It was really dirty and kinda damaged but it was printed on a sturdier paper and it was still intact with no holes or tears. It looked like it was on the floor of an auto machanics garage for about 4 weeks, around 20 years ago or more. I felt it looked "authentic" and bought it. I took it to SF Rock posters and Eric King was there that day inspecting some items with Grant and Guapo. I showed them the poster and they told me right away, I had been burned and began to relate the "owlshit" story to me.
   This became a famous story. This story entailed Brad and Jay going to meet with Zane and concluding that some of these posters were reprinted on thicker paper later in the mid to late 80's. This was a conclusion of theirs, and Zane insisted that they were original. This led to much distrust among the collectors, about Zane Kesey and his motives, because everyone trusted Brad and Jay's collecting expertise. Apparently, the goose chase at some point, led Brad and Jay to a small stash in San Mateo, and one or two had the words, 1987 Norman Hartweg, printed on the bottom right. This created a belief that all of them were printed around 1987, and these were being pawned off on unsuspecting collectors. There were Yellow ones, Blue ones and Orange Ones apparently, according to Jay's best recollections. He claimed the stash was a few inches thick, but not real big. Maybe a dozen or less, but im not sure about this exactly.
   Of course, I was sad, and disappointed and felt burned, so I rushed back to get my money back, and although reluctant, the man who sold me the poster, gave me back my money. My next event was a poster show where I met Kevin Philips of RPM, now based in Texas, and aquired my first Wes Wilson Trips Festival handbill. Kevin then offered me something special. Three of the smaller version MINT acid test posters, just like the one I had returned, but these were only $100 each. I looked them over and one orange one had the writing on the bottom, that read 1987 Norman Hartweg. I dont remember if the paper was the same or not, which I regret terribly at this moment in time. However, I liked the Yellow and Blue ones since they didn't have that written in, and I bought those two. I still have them to this day. I always considered them Genuine 2nd Printing by the artist since they were done from original plates or artwork, and you can tell by looking up close as the print quality is extraordinary. They would have had to be done from original artwork or plates, no doubt. So, all in all, I felt they had real value and a good deal for $100 each. 
   The next trip happened one day when I was scouring my resources for new leads and I came upon the not so notorious Prankster Lee Quarnstrom. I say not so notorious because most people don't know who he is. Lee is one of the first pranksters on the scene. Lee was a writer and journalist and traveled to the Bay area to meet and do a story on Kesey and the bus, and stayed at the Spread in Soquel. He lived there with Ken and Fey, Ken Babbs and several others and joined the pranksters and never got off the bus. I was chatting it up with him via e-mail, and asking about his past and what he knew about some memorabilia I recently picked up, and his recollections of it, and soon I was inquiring about his own items which he still might have. Lee was warm and kind. He extended his friendship to me from the start, and he is very real and genuine. In one particular e-mail I recieved, before money or values were discussed, Lee told me he still had his diploma and graduation poster. I responded by asking him, the Shazam poster? and what condition is it in, etc., etc.? He didn't seem to understand me in some way, and tried to correct me and point out, "the Paul Foster poster I was given at the Graduation". This led me to some confusion. I figured at this point, he had a framed poster of the Hartweg, which was really a Paul Foster poster, and he had been given one at the graduation or something like that. Cool, I thought, and made him an offer for the Diploma and the Poster but I wanted to know what condition the poster was in, and so forth. He replied that it was in great shape and framed for years now. I asked to see a pic, but he told me to just take a look at it when I came down to visit and I didn't think much of it at the moment.
I believe this one originally came from Ken and Zane Kesey. I would guess they also collected the signatures.
   I believe this one originally came from Ken and Zane Kesey. I would guess they also collected the signatures.

   Lee is as genuine as they get. I stepped into his home, and into his office and saw the poster on the wall. I felt like I had stepped into another reality completely. On the wall, framed, was a slightly faded miniature version of the Classic "Hartweg" poster, on thick yellow paper, just like the one I had returned years prior, and just like the one Zane had claimed all along was real, and just like the one, Jeff Gold from Record Mecca obtained from Wavy Gravy's collection, which I admit I had previously advised was fake to a potential buyer a year earlier before it was being sold by Wavy to Jeff (Sorry Wavy and Jeff, my mistake)....just like the ones I bought from Kevin Philips in great shape, for $100 each.....Now, here was Lee claiming what?????  I had to back up, and explain to him, that I was stunned, and perplexed. How could I explain this to him, I thought, and not sound as if I don't believe him? I certainly didn't want to insult him or disrespect him in any way. I took a breath and asked him calmly...."Lee, exactly, how and when did you obtain this poster?" His response to me was as follows, "It was right before the graduation or at the graduation, I don't remember exactly, but Paul was handing them out and asked me if I wanted to hand some out for him....I told him, no, but I'll take one for myself", and I took it home with me. I remember my wife and I, she later became my wife, we had to drive that night a long way and we got it home and put it away. Years later I had it framed when I could afford to." .... Then I asked Lee if he ever got a poster from Zane or anyone at any time in the late 80's or so, and he claimed to remember that he never got one from anyone in the late 80's or anytime, ever. He actually remembered when Paul gave it to him and it appeared to be part of his memory, not some concocted story. I had to wonder to myself, what is going on here? Are all the Pranksters in on this huge Prank, which doesn't really make sense, since there is no real incentive for everyone to lie and all forge a story for a few thousand dollars between them all. That makes little sense. That would mean Wavy Gravy, Zane Kesey, Lee Quarnstrom, and others are all in on it somehow? Or...what else could have happened? Maybe we all made a big mistake??? Maybe people should have listened to Zane Kesey more carefully? Zane always maintained they were originals and his father and him never reproduced those smaller version posters. What happened?
I believe this one originally came from Wavy Gravy's personal collection. It was most likely colored in a long time ago, I would guess, but then again, the Pranksters never valued anything that much other than the "moment".
   I believe this one originally came from Wavy Gravy's personal collection. It was most likely colored in a long time ago, I would guess, but then again, the Pranksters never valued anything that much other than the "moment".

   Well, after much discussion, and further development of trust, I aquired them both, the Poster and the Diploma. I brought the poster home and took it out of the frame. It was exactly the same poster as the other ones. Exact same size, exact same paper, and exact same "Print Size" (Inking). That means that either all the Pranksters are lying or the collectors made a huge error. How could the collectors, like Jacaber, Grant, Phil, Dennis, Eric and the lot of them all, and all the smaller collectors, make such a huge mistake? Well, how could everyone overlook such a huge detail like the POSTER ARTIST? If everyone thought for years that Norman Hartweg was the artist and all along it was Paul Foster, then how hard is it to believe that the collectors could made a mistake like this when it comes to the Miniature "Can You Pass" Poster? Take a look inside the book "Kesey's Garage Sale", and you can find dozens of doodles by the acknowledged Paul Foster artist, a cartoonist, then compare them to the Poster that reads "Can you Pass the Acid Test?" and you will see clearly, that we all failed this major part of the exam. Paul Foster was clearly the artist, not Norman Hartweg.
   That brings us back to another major question.....If Norman Hartweg was not the artist, then HOW and WHEN did his name first become associated with the poster? That's the million dollar question at this point. Well the book "Art of Rock" came out in 1987. The miniature posters that were Orange read copyright 1987 Norman Hartweg on them. But Jay could not remember the yellow or blue ones having that on them. Neither do I, when I saw them and bought the two from Kevin. This is why I regret not buying the orange one because I do not remember what kind of paper it was on. It MAY NOT have been the thicker paper like the yellow and blue ones. If it was not, that could mean that reprints were mixed in, and likely reprinted from Originals and kept mixed together for some reason. Maybe the holders of the original stash didn't know they had originals in San Mateo, and made some reprints and that is what happened, or, maybe they just wanted more of them, or maybe the orange ones were prints to be sold by them at some point? 
Now here is a strange item that does not fit into any typical category. This is obviously from the same printing art as the miniature Foster Graduation poster, since the obvious tell tale inking signs are present, but one can tell upon immediate sight, that the paper is much lighter and thinner than the thicker versions more commonly known to exist. This item was originally listed on E-Bay, and I believe there was a "Buy it Now" price and it was sold for $2000.00 right away. I'm not sure what to think about it, since I never saw it personally. It is a very dubious item, however, we have seen odd ball items before in the acid test collecting field. However, all the ones that original from the two known sources were thick paper and textured, and this is the only one known that is on this thin paper, and is also some kind of split-color fountain print as well. One could speculate the original was scanned up or photographed, then re-printed down on thin paper with the split color style print, but I am not clear enough personally about the process to be able to know whether or not it could have been done. The paper appear sto be well aged, but that kind of aging can be easily faked. Parchment style paper is sold that could look very similar. I find the cup stain and numerous spills suspicious, but then again, that's just my opinion on this particular piece. Maybe I would feel different if I owned it, and knew the provenance or something. All I heard is that it came from an "old couple". Time will tell. For the time being, I consider it either a fake or an extreme oddball.
   Now here is a strange item that does not fit into any typical category. This is obviously from the same printing art as the miniature Foster Graduation poster, since the obvious tell tale inking signs are present, but one can tell upon immediate sight, that the paper is much lighter and thinner than the thicker versions more commonly known to exist. This item was originally listed on E-Bay, and I believe there was a "Buy it Now" price and it was sold for $2000.00 right away. I'm not sure what to think about it, since I never saw it personally. It is a very dubious item, however, we have seen odd ball items before in the acid test collecting field. However, all the ones that original from the two known sources were thick paper and textured, and this is the only one known that is on this thin paper, and is also some kind of split-color fountain print as well. One could speculate the original was scanned up or photographed, then re-printed down on thin paper with the split color style print, but I am not clear enough personally about the process to be able to know whether or not it could have been done. The paper appear sto be well aged, but that kind of aging can be easily faked. Parchment style paper is sold that could look very similar. I find the cup stain and numerous spills suspicious, but then again, that's just my opinion on this particular piece. Maybe I would feel different if I owned it, and knew the provenance or something. All I heard is that it came from an "old couple". Time will tell. For the time being, I consider it either a fake or an extreme oddball.

   Jacaber and I talked for two hours on this and scratched our heads over and over, trying to figure out how this could be. It's still a big mystery and it may not be solved until someone finds a Orange copy with the Norman Hartweg printed on the bottom right corner and get the measurements and paper type to Jay or I. This information is crucial at this point, in determining the differences between the ones we knew were reprints and the ones that are in question now as being likely originals done for gifts to be given out at or around the time of the graduation. Now that this detail has emerged, the population of the smaller poster must be taken into account. There are less than 10 of these known to exist at this time. What does that make the potential value, if they are potentially real and genuine from 1966? I would say roughly $5000-$7500 dollars for the Yellow ones, even more for the blue ones. There are less of these than the larger goldenrods which sell for an average of $12,000. The fact that these are printed on thicker paper, and from real plates or art, make them a genuine treasure in the collecting world of acid test posters. Most serious collectors have passed these up, and now I assume there will be a chase on for these,  with images of the classic movie, "Its a Mad Mad World" coming to mind.

   I personally want to apologize to those who I mislead in ignorance. On one occasion, I was consulted for the purpose of verification of whether one of these that Zane was selling was real or not. My apologies to you Zane. I told one or two people we were not sure, but it was likely printed in the eighties as a second print by the artist, who I believed at the time (along with everybody else) was Norman Harweg. In another situation, I was consulted about a version which came from Wavy Gravy's collection, the colored one. I reasoned it was given to Wavy, by Kesey, and then colored in, as recently as 1987 in all likelyhood. This was likely not the case, after all this new information came to light. My apologies to Jeff Gold of Record Mecca and Wavy Gravy. 

   Now that I think about it all....hell, why apologize at all?
After all, everyone should know better, "Never Trust A Prankster!" - We're only human, after all. (Thanks Babbs!) -- Besides, I never lied about any of it. Everything stated was in sincere belief, partly due to others who I expected to know the answer to these questions, who have been in the business and collecting for 25 years before I ever entered the scene. Now that I know the truth, some are asking me to keep it a secret so they can go out and scour the planet for them first...but the right thing to do is to share the knowledge. I believe if we don't share the knowledge, then it hurts everyone involved in the long run.

Here is another known example of the Paul Foster Miniature Poster. This one has been signed by the following Pranksters : Ken Babbs, Mike Hagen, Gretchen Fetchen, Anonymous X and John Babbs.
   Here is another known example of the Paul Foster Miniature Poster. This one has been signed by the following Pranksters : Ken Babbs, Mike Hagen, Gretchen Fetchen, Anonymous X and John Babbs.

NEW INFO as of Feb 16, 2011. SEE BELOW!! -- The Orange Poster has been discovered.
FINALLY!!! As of Feb. 16, 2011, the information had finally been completely confirmed. Jeff Gold from Record Mecca got a hold of a copy of the elusive "Orange" Hartweg Reprint!!! <br><br> I have been wishing this would turn up again, to do the final detailed comparison. <br> The Reprint is completely different than the poster that was long considered to be a reprint as well. It can now be 100% confirmed that the Miniature Poster by Paul Foster was not the same as the one Reprinted in 1987 by Norman Hartweg. The paper thickness is different as well. <br>
   FINALLY!!! As of Feb. 16, 2011, the information had finally been completely confirmed. Jeff Gold from Record Mecca got a hold of a copy of the elusive "Orange" Hartweg Reprint!!!

I have been wishing this would turn up again, to do the final detailed comparison.
The Reprint is completely different than the poster that was long considered to be a reprint as well. It can now be 100% confirmed that the Miniature Poster by Paul Foster was not the same as the one Reprinted in 1987 by Norman Hartweg. The paper thickness is different as well.

Here are the exact measurements of both variations of this poster:

Original Miniature Version from 1966 (16 29/32" By 10 30/32")
Hartweg Reprint from 1987 (Orange) (17" x 10 31/32")

The Print size from the paper on the Original measures precisely as follows :

Original Foster Miniature: Bottom Edge=9 25/32" - Top Edge=9 15/32" - Left Hand Side=12 21/32" - Right Hand Side=12 20/32"
Hartweg Reprint 1987: Bottom Edge=9 20/32" - Top Edge=9 12/32" - Left Hand Side=12 17/32" - Right Hand Side=12 16/32"
As well, the Harweg Reprints are printed on THIN paper, not thick construction paper.

So what can we conclude from all this? It's likely that Norman Hartweg got left with the original Artwork or Printing Plates in addition to some original Miniature versions of the poster from the Graduation giveaway. In 1987 he decided to make some reprints from those plates or artwork. Then both posters were mixed together at some point, and ended up in San Mateo. Nobody knows the exact details, but we can conclude completely at this point, the thick paper versions were done in 1966, and the thin paper orange prints were done in 1987.