Elvis auctions often lead to some interesting, but generally unknown, tid-bits. Sometimes it is contained in an item description, and sometimes my curiosity is inspired, leading to a Google search. And, sometimes these lead to a discovery like this.
This is a McCormick Distilleries commemorative Elvis decanter. There are dozens of different Elvis whisky decanters on eBay, but I couldn’t find this one. If you see it at a flea market, snap it up.
Based on the first two pictures, you’d think the decanter was designed using the Elvis photograph. Nope, they had another guy model the Gi so they could get the depth, side, and back design right.
That’s three pictures in a row that are pretty much the same, so here’s a change of pace.
The back of the decanter makes it look like Elvis is sitting on a drum. The tax seal is pretty ugly, too.
There are two different circular images on the decanter. These are reproductions of embroidered patches that Elvis had on his Karate Gi.
This Elvis-designed TCB emblem adorned the left chest side of his Gi jacket.
Elvis had this so-called crown/fist patch on his lower left sleeve. Here’s a good look at their placement
Elvis had a few other designer elements personalizing his Karate outfit. Much like a jumpsuit, the flared legs are secured with three braided buttons in red, black, and white (not visable). Flare vents are visible when the buttons are unhooked.
But the belt is especially interesting. It is cotton with a satin overlay. The end of the sash changed as Elvis advanced through the progression of Black Belt degrees.
There are seven red tabs indicating that Elvis had achieved 7th degree Black Belt. His Karate nickname was Tiger. It started out as Panther, but there was some bad stuff going on back then with the Black Panthers, so Elvis changed it.
This is a rare view of Elvis outside wearing his Karate Gi. They were stored at the training facility. Here Elvis is heading to a Karate demonstration he held for teenagers.
Elvis received this card when he achieved the 7th degree mark in August 1974.
He also received certificates for each new degree.
This one is for 8th degree, and it is dated just a month later than the 7th degree card. It is interesting that somehow Elvis managed to have his TCB logo incorporated into the certificate design.
The name on the card is Ed Parker and the name on the certificate is Kang Rhee. Elvis started Karate training while stationed in Germany during his time in the U.S. Army. After completing his service and returning to the United States, he began to study with Grand Master of American Kenpo Karate, Ed Parker. In 1970, Parker suggested Elvis train with Rhee, a martial arts instructor of great reputation. Elvis trained under Rhee for the next four years.
Elvis had six of his white sailcloth cotton Karate Gi’s with red satin trim on the lapels and hems, but there were slight variations. This Kang Rhee patch appeared on the back of some.
At least one jacket had the letters E P on the back.
This is the photo of the Elvis Karate Gi that started me on my rambling Google search. It was part of the June 2016 Heritage Music Memorabilia Auction, but it failed to generate the minimum bid of $10,000 ($12,500 with auction house premium). This surprised me because I remembered some of the other versions selling at other auctions.
Here’s what I found:
Julien’s Auctions, May 2015 — $23,125
Gotta Have Rock and Roll Auctions, August 2012 — $7,986
Julien’s Auctions, December 2011 — $15,300
Guerney’s Auctions, May 2008 – 15,000
I studied these results trying to understand why there was such divergence. All I can conclude is that the winning bidder last year at Julien’s paid way too much.
Now, we’ll have fun looking at some of the stuff inspired by Elvis’ Karate Gi.
Yes, sir. A Karate Elvis figurine. There’s even a button on the back of the stage which turns on a light at the top.
To me, this figurine wins the award for the little plastic head that looks the most like Elvis. There are some crummy ones out there.
This is a guy named Liam Gallagher from the rock band Oasis. He had Patsy tattooed on his arm until he got divorced from her. Then he covered it with Elvis’ TCB Karate design.
This looks like a kid T-Shirt sporting a cartoon Elvis doing a Karate kick. Actually, it’s an adult size large. Here’s another shirt that is obviously for adults.
Elvis Kicked My Ass Back in ’72. Great shirt.
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