Mid-September seems like an odd time to post a blog about an auction of Elvis items that took place back in July, but there have been reasons for the delay. After the Heritage Music Memorabilia Auction ended on July 29, a number of things came up that inspired timely articles on ElvisBlog: The Elvis Super Hero book, the identity of the girl in the famous Al Wertheimer photo “The Kiss,” the death of the prolific writer of Elvis song lyrics Jerry Leiber, and more.
Nothing big related to Elvis was in the news this week, so let’s look at some interesting Elvis things that changed hands at the auction.
Celebrity–Signed Western Shirt:
This shirt brought in $7,170, and that high price might be because dozens of celebrities signed it, in addition to Elvis. Some of the names you can’t see or are not legible include Steve Allen, Andy Griffith, Tex Ritter, Raymond Burr, James Mason, Red Foley, Fess Parker, Phil Silvers, Cesar Romero, Roy Rogers, and Jack Webb.
Here are some autographs you can read. If you start at the top button above, Colonel Parker is just to the left. Scotty (Moore) is farther down and to the left. Red Skelton is clearly visible to the right of the face. Susan Hayward is signed vertically just to the right of the buttons. A little lower, Phyllis Diller and Betty White are easy to see.
In this blow-up, Elvis is circled, and Larry Geller is just to the left. The box below tells some of the history of this shirt, but does not explained how all the autographs were collected.
The shirt came with a Letter of Authenticity from Joe Esposito. It has been sold at auction at least once before, starting with Bonham’s Auctions back in 1997.
1972 Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar:
There were two Martin acoustic guitars in this auction, but the 1953 Martin 00-21 failed to attract any bidding above the $37,500 minimum. The 1972 Martin D-28 model pictured above did surpass its minimum bid and went for $19,120.
Elvis played Martin guitars early in his career and switched back to them again in the 70’s. This 1972 D-28 came with two letters of authenticity and two large color photos of Elvis using it in concert.
Personal Address/Phone Book:
If this looks familiar, it should, because it was included in an ElvisBlog article last September about the Ultimate Elvis Auction held in Memphis during Elvis Week. It sold for $10,217 then, and it brought in $13,145 this time. At first glance, it would appear that somebody made a quick $3,000 on this item. However, the latest sell price includes the auctioneer’s 19% fee. After that is deducted from the proceeds, the seller made only $100. I think I would have just held on to it.
Elvis’ jumpsuit belts aren’t the only ones highly prized by collectors. He bought this silver concho belt in 1967 while filming Stay Away Joe in Sedona, Arizona. The belt has eleven silver conchos with turquoise settings, and the buckle is solid silver with fourteen more turquoise stones. Elvis later gave the belt to his musical director Joe Guercio, who replaced the buckle with one of his own (the one on the belt in the photo). There was no mention of what happened to the original buckle shown in the photo of Elvis wearing the belt. It will probably show up in an auction someday. In spite of not having the original buckle, the belt brought in $5,078.
Set of Sun 78 Records:
You true Elvis fans know that Sun Records released five Elvis records, and most of them were in the 45RPM format favored by the kids. But, they were also released in the older and much more brittle 10 inch 78RPM format. This set is in pretty good, but not mint, condition, and they went for $2,629.
Graceland Purchase Agreement:
This was the top item in the bidding, even though it fell short of the auction estimate. The three-page real estate sales contract for Graceland, dated March 26, 1957 went for $21,510.
Also included is an 11″ x 17″ engineer's survey draft of the estate and surrounding acreage and a two-page letter from Shelby County regarding property taxes. The reason these items brought in such a high bid is probably due to the fact that the contract had the signatures of Elvis, his father Vernon, and his mother Gladys. According to the auction website, items signed by all three family members are extremely rare, due to Mrs. Presley's untimely death on August 14, 1958. You will note that Elvis originally omitted his middle name, but did add it later. Elvis signed very few signatures as Elvis Aron Presley, so that added to the collectible value as well.
It’s interesting that Elvis paid $102,000 for Graceland, and 63 years later, just the signed contract sells for over $21,000.
Sunglasses with “TCB” Logo:
According to the auction website, Elvis had over 400 pairs of custom-designed sunglasses specially made for him. He gave away so many pairs of these glasses that there has been a steady parade of them showing up in Elvis auctions. However, this model is a design called Nautic, and it is much rarer than the familiar model with the decreasing holes in the temples and the TCB on the bridge. Also, these lenses are half-tinted in Elvis' favorite Dove Blue shade. No wonder this pair inspired active bidding and a top bid of $11,950.
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