Two of my Elvis blogger buddies have bravely posted articles they describe as being… on the edge of reality. Troy Yeary started it on his Mystery Train Elvis blog, which actually has this tag line “Following Dreams of Yesterday to the Edge of Reality.”
I love his concept on July 7: You can go back in history to any time in Elvis’ life you choose. And you are equipped with a special audio recorder to capture ten minutes of Elvis doing never-before recorded performances, rehearsals or private picking and singing at Graceland.
Then Thomas Melin of Elvis Today picked up on the idea on August 8 when he posted a fanciful story about Elvis on a huge world tour that never was.
Well, I wanted to get in on the Edge of Reality Elvis fun, but I couldn’t think of an interesting topic. That is, until I checked out the 300 items Heritage Auctions presented on the “Elvis Memorabilia Signature Auction” in Memphis during Elvis Week. In addition to clothes, jewelry, autographs and records, there was a sizeable selection of vintage Elvis merchandise that had been marketed to teenagers back in 1956 and 1957.
If you’ve ever travelled to Memphis to commemorate the life of the King, you know there is overwhelming array of Elvis stuff available in the Graceland gift shops.
Although most of that merchandise doesn’t do anything for me, I guess it appeals to somebody because it keeps selling. But, how cool would it be we could find an assortment of 1956-57 Elvis items available today? Here is my take on an Edge of Reality Vintage Elvis Gift Shop.
Elvis Poodle Skirt:
How about a black felt poodle skirt from 1956? All you needed was your saddle oxfords and you’d be ready for the next high school sock hop. A gyrating Elvis stands on a record album while musical notes and more records spin around him. A little color is added in the red embroidering around the border of his guitar and the tiny red jewels used for the tuner pegs. If we follow the value set by the winning bidder at the auction, the price tag on this poodle skirt would be $1,625.
Elvis Three-Ring Binder:
What could be better for creating your own Elvis scrapbook than a 1956 “Love Me Tender” three-ring binder with Elvis on the cover? It’s big, 10.5” by 14”, with a zipper closure, and it has a simulated Elvis autograph. What a steal at just $625.
The Elvis Presley Game:
The fine print on the box of this 1957 product calls it the “Party Game for the Young at Heart”. Elvis’ favorite colors from the fifties – pink and black – decorate the box and game board, which is emblazoned with images of dancing bobbysoxers, teddy bears, and a hot rodding just-married couple. Accessories include ten record-shaped playing pieces and a spinner wheel featuring Elvis, swinging his arm around as the pointer. No auction bidders were willing to meet the minimum bid of $1,250, so it would have to sell for something less at our Edge of Reality Vintage Elvis Gift Shop.
Elvis Presley Vintage T-Shirt:
How about a rare 1956 white, yellow and black long-sleeve t-shirt in excellent condition? It is girls’ size Large, with a picture of the King and lyric lines from some of his songs on the front. You have to love a shirt with three different colored fabrics and slits at the hips. They don’t make them like that anymore. A steal at just $625.
Adjustable Ring” Display Standup Card Complete with Twelve Elvis Rings:
Each of these twelve gold-colored “bubble” rings from 1956 bears a color photo of the King underneath a 0.625″ plastic magnifying lens. The 7″ x 10″ cardboard display features a poor drawing of Elvis along with twelve slots which are all filled with rings. At upper right is handwritten “5.00 each.” Well, the entire package went for $2,750, which puts the value of each ring at $229 today. What a deal. Better get two.
Elvis Presley Sneakers:
If you are a girl with size 3 feet, this is the Elvis goodie for you. These Elvis Presley sneakers did get some wear after being purchased in 1956, so the tread is gone. However, the auction still rated them in Very Good Condition (I’m not sure how that can be).The included box is in great condition and apparently adds a lot to the sneakers’ value, which ended up much higher than the auction’s estimate. Price for the box and sneakers is $3,750. I think you can buy shoes Elvis actually wore for less than that.
Love Me Tender Doll:
How about this cute little guy? What teenage girl Elvis fan wouldn’t want an 18” “Love Me Tender” Elvis doll? Issued in early 1957 to capitalize on the success of his first movie, this doll is dressed just like Elvis’ character Clint Reno in a plaid shirt and blue jeans. This is a very rare collectible because the “skin” tended to deteriorate over time (Check out the right hand). In spite of that, the price tag on this doll would be $875
Elvis Presley Large Tan Clutch Purse:
The auction offered several sizes and designs of Elvis clutch purses, but stated this was the rarest. There are three Elvis images on it, and the one in the middle certainly got plenty of use back in 1956 products. It is on three of the memorabilia items already presented, and there are two more to come. This clutch purse is in Very Fine to Near Mint condition and carries a price tag of $625.
Elvis Presley Guitar:
It’s a big deal to find this 1956 guitar and the original carrying case in good condition, and this combo comes pretty close. The guitar is missing three strings and has some damage to the top of the hound dog sticker. The case is even rarer than the guitar, but it has some minor dings and bumps at the corners, a small taped tear, and wear along the top flap that fits inside the case when closed. The auction bidders were apparently turned off by these little imperfections because nobody put in the minimum bid of $625. So, the Edge of Reality Vintage Elvis Gift Shop price would have to be something less.
Elvis Presley Vintage Bookends:
Here’s a pair of authentic vintage plaster Elvis Presley bookends, manufactured by Elvis Presley Enterprises in 1956. Sorry, but they look more like Lee Majors than Elvis to me. In spite of that, the price tag reads $375.
Elvis Presley Crew Hat, Dog Tags, and Promotional Banners:
This package includes four products and two promotional banners. The Elvis Presley Crew Hat is in Mint condition and has the original tag still attached, which adds to its value. And there are two 17 inch long store banners for the hat. Also included are a simulated Army Dog Tag, two sizes of the Dog Tag Bracelet, and a Dog Tag Anklet. Sold as a set only, but at a modest price of $312.
Elvis Presley Gum Card Set:
According to the auction house, there have been many card sets honoring Elvis, but none is more desirable than this complete 66-card set from 1956. Twenty of the cards feature scenes from the King’s first feature film, Love Me Tender. All but three of the cards grade out as Excellent. What a steal at just $437.
Elvis Presley Vintage Handkerchiefs:
This 1956 set includes both blue and red versions of 13″ x 12″ handkerchiefs with motifs of Elvis’ hit songs. The familiar picture of Elvis and his guitar is flipped on the blue one making Elvis look like a left-handed guitar player. On the red one, there are both left and right-handed versions of the image, plus a side-view of Elvis singing into a mic. These handkerchiefs are both graded Near Mint, bringing the price tag up to $594.
Elvis Presley Belt:
This vintage blue vinyl belt from 1956 is quite rare. It is adorned with brass buckles and images of Presley and some of his song titles. It is in Excellent condition and seems like a bargain at just $375.
If you go to Memphis today you can choose from forty-three different Elvis 35th Anniversary items at 20% off. Frankly, I’d much prefer to walk into an Edge of Reality Vintage Elvis Gift Shop that contained nothing but the kind of memorabilia shown above. Of course, I couldn’t afford any of the vintage items, so I probably would go next door and buy one of those nifty discounted anniversary coffee mugs for $12.
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