In spite of the outstanding success of the Auctions at Graceland in January and August, there are good opportunities to purchase Elvis collectibles in between. Julien’s Auctions had one in May, Heritage has one coming up in June, and Gotta Have Rock & Roll has one scheduled for July.
All three of these are general rock & roll memorabilia auctions featuring many artists, but they have great selections of Elvis goodies for serious collectors to bid on. The recent Julien’s Music Icons Auction had 84 Elvis items, and we will look at some of the more interesting ones here.
Painted Leather Jacket:
If I were rich, this is the Elvis collectible I would most love to own. It is cool beyond belief, both front and back, and it comes with a photo of Elvis wearing it.
Starting with a silver leather jacket, which is pretty cool by itself, an artist commissioned by the East West Musical Instrument Co in 1974 added multicolor flame, rainbow, and star designs. Plus a hawk on the back. My twisted mind even sees ascending sperm. Absolutely fantastic, and it sold for $50,000 (including the 25% fee the auction house adds).
1961 Black Mohair Suit from Lansky Bros:
Here’s more Elvis clothing. Not as splashy, but there is much photographic documentation of Elvis wearing it on formal occasions in 1961: a luncheon at the Hotel Claridge in Memphis when he was presented with a plaque from RCA for record sales in excess of 75 million; in Nashville when he addressed the Tennessee state legislature; and in Oahu, Hawaii while there for the USS Arizona Memorial benefit concert. It sold for $28,125.
Waltham Pocket Watch:
This 21-jewel pocket watch is set in 14k gold and is attached to a gold-filled chain with fob and locket.
As you can see, the inscription on the back is To… Elvis from Michele. This is Michele Carey, his co-star in Live A Little, Love A Little. There’s no telling what she paid for it in 1968, but it sold at auction in 2016 for $8,320.
Medieval Knight Figurines:
These are plastic figurines that were displayed somewhere in Graceland. There are no photos showing them on a table or shelf in one of the rooms. All that was offered as proof that they once were in Elvis’ house are Letters of Authenticity from two collectors who previously owned the pair of knights. That wouldn’t be enough for me, but somebody paid $1,600 for them.
Decorative Stone Egg:
Here’s another cute item that’s a little light on verification. The auction website says, “The orange, brown and white oval stone is believed to have been displayed in the living room in Graceland.” Believed! Just a Letter of Authenticity from one of the two collectors mentioned above with the knights. Still, it was worth $625 to somebody.
Gibson Dove Guitar:
Without question, this was the star of the show. I can’t tell the story of this guitar any better than the auction website did, so here it is:
The pre-auction estimate was $200-300,000, but the bidding beat that and topped out at $334,000. The guitar has a solid spruce top, maple back and sides, custom ebony finish with Kanpo decal, and gold-plated tuners. The most distinctive feature is the 21-fret fingerboard with customized Elvis Presley pearlized inlay.
If you look back at the first picture of the guitar, you can see pearlized dove’s heads on either side of the bridge, thus the model name Gibson Dove.
Brown Leather Jacket:
This three-quarter length brown leather jacket went for $5,120. It would have certainly gone for more money if it had been accompanied by a photo of Elvis wearing it. The auction website says Elvis gave the coat to Memphis Mafia member Dave Hebler when he helped Elvis clean out his closet. Hebler should have photographed Elvis wearing it before taking possession.
Baby Browning Semi-automatic Pistol:
This Belgium–made pistol is only 6.35mm caliber, and has a two-inch barrel, so, the Baby Browning name is a good choice. According to the auction website, Elvis carried this gun in his boot during his Las Vegas engagements. It exceeded the pre-auction estimate by a lot, topping out at $7,680.
It seems like a pair of Elvis sunglasses shows up at just about every auction. He certainly did have a bunch of them made over the years. These are a bit different than most because they are chrome, not gold, and I don’t remember seeing this treatment before. Perhaps that (plus the accompanying photo of him wearing them) is why they sold so well, bringing in $28,000.
Can of Suede Spray:
We will end this post with four examples of what fans on a budget will pay for Elvis memorabilia. The four items all were originally obtained from Nancy Rooks, the maid and cook at Graceland from 1967 until Elvis’ death. According to her LOA, Elvis used this spray can. Somebody was willing to pay $256 for something that Elvis actually touched.
The website says Elvis gave the pen to Nancy Rooks when it ran out of ink. It also brought $256.
Elvis brought this lei made of artificial flowers back from one of his trips to Hawaii and gave it to Nancy Rooks. The auction house estimated it would go for $6-800, but nobody else thought it was worth that.
The Worst Elvis Memorabilia Ever:
Yes, it’s true. People will pay good money for Elvis’ underwear. The action website says they were a gift from Elvis’ Aunt Delta, and they are size 36. Note that ELVIS is written on the waistband, presumably so they don’t get mixed up with anybody else’s. I’m just guessing, but I can’t imagine Elvis allowing the underwear of any other male to be washed with his. Anyway, it sold for $2,560.
The Julien’s Rock Icon Auction contained nine Elvis rings and a bunch of autographed items. We will look at all them all at a later date,
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