I started collecting record albums back in the 80s when CDs took over as the dominant music format. When people bought CD players and started building CD libraries, their old LPs and 45s languished in disinterest. Ultimately, many people sold their record collections at garage sales. For years, I was a regular Saturday morning scavenger, hitting as many garage sales as possible, looking for records. Sometimes I would buy selectively, and sometimes I would make an offer on everything they had.
Ultimately, I ended up selling my doubles and other unwanted albums at record shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Ashville, and my hometown of Greenville, SC. I had a partner in these ventures, and sometimes I would leave her minding our tables while I roamed the floor looking for deals on Elvis albums and 45s. I built up a substantial collection I am quite proud of.
To learn more about the hobby, I subscribed to a record collecting magazine called Discoveries. For twenty-five years I have read hundreds of articles and learned of several super Elvis rarities worth big bucks. Despite all the record shows I attended, I have never seen anything that rare or that valuable. They seemed to be the exclusive providence of the big collectors, who scooped them up whenever they appear on the market. I’ve thought about doing blogs on some of these Elvis rarities, but it would be a real chore to go back through 600 old issues of Discoveries to find the background information I’d need. Plus, the lack of quality color photos to illustrate any articles cooled my enthusiasm.
Now, two of these very rare, very weird, and very valuable Elvis records have come up for auction in Memphis during Elvis Week. Heritage Auction Galleries calls 2010 the Year of The King, and to celebrate his 75th birthday, they are conducting the Ultimate Elvis Auction live at The Peabody Hotel. The final bids will go in on August 14.
Here’s what Heritage has to say about their Ultimate Elvis Auction:
Every year, [we] present selections of Elvis memorabilia as unique and superior as the legacy of The King himself. Now, in this milestone year, we're taking it to another level.
Indeed, Heritage has put excellent hi-def photos of all items in their on-line catalog, so let’s take a look at two really cool Elvis records.
Elvis Shares an Album with Jaye P. Morgan – What?
Elvis Presley and Jaye P. Morgan Promo Double Disc EP 1956
The picture above is not two albums photographed side-by-side. Rather it is what is called a gatefold double album that has been opened up to show the back and front covers. Think of it as a skinny book with Elvis on the front cover and lounge singer Jaye P. Morgan on the back cover. Inside each cover is a pocket containing a 45 RPM record. However, each disc is an EP (Extended Play) record with two songs on each side. Elvis released several dozen EPs in the 50s and early 60s, and I own copies of almost all. They were like mini-albums kids could play on their personal 45 RPM record players (usually found in their bedrooms.)
Personal 45 RPM Record Player, Usually Found in Teens’ Bedrooms
Here is the original Elvis EP with the four song titles across the top: “Rip It Up,” “Love Me,” “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” and “Paralyzed.” There is an interesting bit of trivia about “Love Me.” Although it was never released on a regular two-song record, “Love Me” reached # 2 on the Billboard chart. Jukebox and disc jockey play clearly showed which of the four songs was the big winner.
1956 Four-Song Elvis EP Album
So, why did RCA combine eight songs from two different artists on this strange product? Like many other rarities, it was a promotional item. RCA was trying to do two things. Mostly, they wanted to convince retailers to carry Rock and Roll records in addition to those of crooners like Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore. This double disc promo was wrapped horizontally with a 1.25″ wide paper band which contained a multiple choice question (with check-off boxes):
“One of these albums sold… two, four, ten, twenty, hundred, or thousand… times better than the other… which one?”
The album contained an insert with the answer:
To facilitate their other goal, RCA also listed some facts inside intended to convince retailers that did not already sell records that they should:
So, what is this rare Elvis promo record worth? Heritage Auction Galleries has listed the minimum starting bid at $6,000, and they estimate it will bring $12,000 or more. Based on the prices of those other Elvis rarities I read about, I think it will do that easily.
Elvis in the Grooves, The Whispers on the Label:
Once or twice before, I have commented on ElvisBlog about how auctioneers have made really low estimates about what certain Elvis memorabilia will bring. Well, this is another one.
“Doncha’ Think It’s Time” by Elvis – pressed on disc with The Whispers label.
This is a picture of a 45 RPM record. You can see that the label clearly says the song is “One For The Money” by The Whispers. However, the song pressed in the grooves is Elvis’ minor hit “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.” Screw ups like this create valuable collectibles, especially if Elvis is involved… and, especially if there are only two of them in existence.
We are talking about a very rare, very desirable record here. The auction minimum bid is $1,500 and the estimate is $3,000 and up. I’m betting it will be way up.
So, what’s the story on this Elvis record anomaly? It dates back to 1976 when RCA’s Indianapolis plant wanted to test a new process whereby all label information was actually stamped, or embossed, right into the vinyl itself, rather than printed on paper which was glued to the disc. The result of this stamping process was slightly raised lettering, similar to Braille. Somehow, they had the technology to incorporate different shades of gray into the embossing process, so all the printing you see above is right on the disc. Because RCA’s record labels were basically black and white, unlike the multi-colored labels of most other record companies, they could be simulated in the embossing.
This experiment did not give the intended result and the idea was scrapped, but three test copies were kept to substantiate the results.
The description of the record on the Heritage Auction website is about two of these. The other information they reveal does not fully explain how we got Elvis songs on Whispers records. Here is what they say, for what it’s worth.
Both sides of the disc play the original 1958 Elvis hit, “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.”
However, the “label” imprint is for “One For the Money,” a 1976 soul single by the Whispers — a convenient hit record being produced at that same time.
Obviously, there is more to the story. Why would the flip side of Elvis big 1958 hit “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” be on a record produced in 1976?
I spoke with Jerry Osborne, famous music historian, writer, Elvis collector and memorabilia marketer. At one time he owned all three of these strange records. The third one had Elvis’ song “What’d I Say” on it, with the same Whispers song information on the disc. Osborne sold it and one copy of the “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” record to a major private collector, and so far, they haven’t come back on the market.
All I know is – this is one very rare, unique Elvis record, and it should bring well over $3,000.
© 2010 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
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