From Woodstock to 'Miracle' to the Beatles: Rare instances when full tickets outnumber stubs

A full, unused ticket is almost always harder to find — except in the cases of these four events

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A full, unused ticket to Woodstock isn't as rare as you'd think.

Collectors look at graded populations to help advise them on just how rare something is, and most of the time, especially with cards, they aren't surprised.

You'd expect to see the large amount of 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards that are on population reports. It's not unexpected to find the 1986 Michael Jordan Fleer rookie has a very low number of PSA 10s, given that card is particularly rough out of a pack.

Tickets normally follow the same track.

There are high populations of things that would have potentially been saved: Grandfathers told their grandsons not to throw out that Babe Ruth "Called Shot" ticket or that pass to Don Larsen's perfect game.

Then, of course, there are the pieces that are rare. How many Cavs fans were eager to hold on to the ticket from "Jordan over Ehlo," and how many Cubs fans desired to hold on to that curse of a ticket that became the "Steve Bartman Game"?

For the ticket collector, the best find is a full ticket, the rarity belonging to fan who never entered the arena or stadium. As card collectors have come to the ticket market, the full ticket almost always merits the top price.

That's partly because, in most cases, the full is more rare.

But there are at least four instances where that is not true. And there's a story behind all of them.

1. Woodstock, 1969

The 1969 music festival in Woodstock, N.Y., is one of the most significant events in the history of music. When people ask ticket collectors if they have a specific ticket, Woodstock is usually at the top of the list.

So, what does a PSA 10 full ticket of all three days at Woodstock cost? You can get one slabbed for less than $500.

PSA has graded 55 stubs from the festival ... and 4,060 full tickets.

So what gives?

The answer is two-fold.

The legendarily raucous event had massive crowd-control issues and was notoriously under-prepared. When the concert opened Friday morning, the promoters realized they had forgotten a key component.

Ticket booths.

Some retellings of the morning recount a brief attempt to convince the concert-goers to leave and come back, only for the idea to be quickly abandoned, rendering Woodstock an effectively free concert.

No need for tickets.

The second, and more significant reason for the massive supply of full tickets, came in 1981.

A man named Norman Karp bought a few safes from a friend who had leased them to Woodstock Ventures and never opened them, according to a 1999 report in the Tampa Bay Times. Karp paid $14,000.

Inside the safes, he uncovered 150,000 unused tickets, in addition to Jimi Hendrix's signed contract and other Woodstock merchandise.

"He placed ads in national newspapers and magazines and sold 30,000 tickets at $29.95 each," the Times reported. "He claimed to have made nearly $1 millon from the sales."

This created a rare instance in which the full-vs.-stub dichotomy was totally flipped on its head.

One of the 975 PSA 10 examples of the full variant goes for around $200. For stubs, the price difference is tough to quantify, considering it doesn't appear ANY have transacted publicly.

Graded Woodstock Tickets on ebay.

2. "Miracle On Ice", 1980

The next "bragging rights" question for ticket collectors is usually, "Do you have a 'Miracle on Ice' ticket?" If the answer is yes, it's not as exciting as you think.

Miracle on Ice Full Ticket (Credit: Heritage)
Miracle on Ice Full Ticket (Credit: Heritage)

The Lake Placid Olympic Committee printed a ton of extra tickets, resulting in a huge amount of U.S.-USSR tickets when collectors came calling.

There are 129 full tickets graded by PSA, and only 25 that were actually inside the venue.

Miracle on Ice Tickets on ebay.

3. Ali-Liston II, 1965

This one has a pretty simple explanation. Although Ali standing over Liston in the first round became the most famous boxing photo ever, there were few people there to see it. The fight ended up in Lewiston, Maine, after a deal to have it at the Boston Garden fell through.

Roughly 2,500 fans filled the 5,000 capacity Central Maine Youth Center, a preposterous location for a fight of this size.

The result? A lot of the unused tickets were saved.

PSA has graded 471 full tickets to this fight and just TWO STUBS.

Ali-Liston II Tickets on ebay.

4. The Beatles at Suffolk Downs, 1966

There are 116 full tickets of the Aug. 18, 1966, concert in Boston, making up 45 percent of the 1966 Beatles full-ticket population graded by PSA.

This Beatles ticket is far more common than even the iconic Shea Stadium (Credit: Goldin)
This Beatles ticket is far more common than even the iconic Shea Stadium (Credit: Goldin)

Number of used tickets PSA has graded from Suffolk Downs? Four!

The reason?

Suffolk Downs was a horse track, and many of the seating areas weren’t in use during the concert. It was reported there were more than 10,000 leftover tickets. Producer Gerald Roberts put them in his attic, and the big allotment of tickets was discovered in 1984.

Beatles tickets are usually a great item, but buyer beware on this one. It's too good to be true.

The Beatles at Suffolk Downs Tickets on ebay.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.

Darren Rovell is the founder of and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.