Guide to the Acid Test Poster Reprint Collection MS.339

Nicholas G. Meriwether
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz 95064


Finding aid revised in 2018

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Title: Acid Test Poster Reprint Collection
creator: Kesey, Zane
Identifier/Call Number: MS.339
Physical Description: 2 Linear Feet 1 box
Date (inclusive): 1990-2000
Abstract: The Acid Tests were a series of multimedia events held by author Ken Kesey and his associates, nicknamed the Merry Pranksters, from 1965-1966, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area but also in Portland, Los Angeles, and Mexico. Centered around the use of the psychedelic drug LSD, which was legal at the time, the Acid Tests featured light shows and performances by the Grateful Dead, Neal Cassady, Hugh Romney (later Wavy Gravy), and others. Posters and handbills associated with the Acid Tests are very scarce, and Zane Kesey created these modern reprints and variants to meet collector demand. All are signed by Kesey and some of the Pranksters.
Physical Location: Special Collections and Archives, McHenry Library, UC Santa Cruz.


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Property rights for this collection reside with the University of California. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. The publication or use of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use for research or educational purposes requires written permission from the copyright owner. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information on copyright or to order a reproduction, please visit

Preferred Citation

Acid Test Poster Reprint Collection. MS 339. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Acquisition Information

The collection was acquired from Key-Z Productions, who produced these reprints, in 2010.

Digital Surrogates

Digital images of these posters are available online at Grateful Dead Archive Online (GDAO) 

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection comprises modern reprints and variants of posters and handbills associated with the Acid Tests, created by Ken Kesey and his son Zane Kesey and sold through their business, Key-Z Productions.


The collection is arranged chronologically by the date of the original.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

LSD (Drug)
Posters, American -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
Merry Band of Pranksters
Kesey, Ken

box 1, folder 3

"Can You Pass the Acid Test" Poster, Orange Variant [1965] ms0339_gra_000333293

Abstract: The artist primarily responsible for this poster is Paul Foster. Norman Hartweg was misidentified as the artist in the book The Art of Rock (Abbeville Press, 1987), p.91, a mistake that stemmed from the copyright notice on a reprint of the poster Hartweg commissioned in the 1980s. Interviews with Foster, his associates, and other Merry Pranksters confirm Foster's authorship, although several Pranksters, including Carolyn "MG" Adams Garcia, contributed to the piece.
box 1, folder 7

"Can You Pass the Acid Test" Poster, Blue Variant [1965] ms0339_gra_000733294

box 1, folder 6

"Dress the Way You Are" Trips [Festival], Apr.21-23, 1966 ms0339_gra_000633296

box 1, folder 1

Acid Test Diploma [1966] ms0339_gra_000133291

box 1, folder 2

Acid Test Graduation Poster [Oct. 31, 1966] ms0339_gra_000233292

box 1, folder 4

"Can You Pass the Acid Test" Poster, Uncle Sam Variant ms0339_gra_000433295

box 1, folder 5

"Can You Pass the Acid Test?" Signboard Poster ms0339_gra_000533290


Reproduction of the signboard collage (now at the Smithsonian) used to advertise the Acid Tests.