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Handbills & Flyers

Handbills and flyers serve as exciting “miniature posters” for collectors, which can usually be had for a much lower price than their larger counterparts. (The two terms are interchangeable, so here we’ll just use the term “handbill.”)

In the most traditional sense, handbills were “handed out” by street-corner hawkers to draw customers to an event. In more recent times, they were stacked on a countertop or, less often, posted one at a time in high-traffic areas to attract the most eyeballs. But generally speaking, posters were designed to be observed, not taken; handbills were intended to be taken away by potential customers, one at a time.

In some cases, handbills were produced when a concert promoter didn’t want to pay for more-expensive posters. But oftentimes both posters and handbills were used simultaneously for the same concert. Besides size, handbills were also cheaper to produce because they were always made out of paper, not cardboard.

Speaking of size, some experts consider 11x17” the smallest size that qualifies as a “poster”; anything smaller kicks into the handbill category. But like most aspects of this hobby, there are no hard and fast rules, just some general consensus.

Enjoy the images on this page of some fun handbills from the past, all measuring 8x10” or smaller. Feel free to submit other interesting examples that we can share. And as always, I will pay top dollar for vintage handbills and flyers of this nature.

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Bill Haley and the Comets, The Platters and more handbill


Gerdes folk city-John Lee Hooker and Bob Dylan handbill


Paul Whiteman at Lincoln Auditorium handbill


Crosby Still Nash Young at UCSB handbill

National Soul Festival at Yankee Stadium James Brown handbill

Hippodrome Auditorium Alan Freed Big Beat various artists handbill


Details on the handbills pictured above: Super Attractions Present The Biggest In Person Show of 56 with Bill Haley and His Comets, The Platters, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Clyde McPhatter, The Clovers, Ella Johnson, Chuck Berry, Shirley and Lee, Shirley Gunther, “Vic” Lewis and his Orchestra, The Flairs and Buddy Johnson and his Big Orchestra, at the Cleveland Arena in Cleveland, OH on Oct. 23, 1956; John Lee Hooker and Bob Dylan at Gerde’s Folk City in New York, NY in a two-week engagement running through April 23, 1961; Paul Whiteman and his World Famous Orchestra featuring young pianist Earl Wild plus Eugenie Baird and Johnny Thompson at the Lincoln Auditorium in Syracuse, NY on Jan. 15, 1947; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young plus Sweetwater at the University of California (UCSB) in Santa Barbara, CA on Nov. 9, 1969 (picturing only David Crosby and Graham Nash for some odd reason); James Brown and Revue at the National Soul Festival at Yankee Stadium in New York, NY on June 22, 1968; and Alan Freed Presents the Big Beat with Jerry Lee Lewis & Band, Buddy Holly, The Crickets, Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, The Diamonds, Danny & The Juniors, Billy & Lillie, Billy Ford and the Thunderbirds, The Chantels, Dicky Doo and the Dont’s, Larry Williams & Orchestra, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Pastels and Jo Ann Campbell, all backed by Alan Freed and his Coral Records Big Rocking Band Starring Sam The Man Taylor, at the Hippodrome Auditorium in Waterloo, IA on April 22, 1958.

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