The Auction at Graceland continues to grow and cement its position as the best place to sell your Elvis collectibles. In addition to bringing buyers and sellers together, EPE has introduced another attraction to bring folks to Elvis Week. From just 72 items at the first auction in August 2014, the list of memorabilia grew to 197 lots in the recent August 13, 2016 extravaganza in Memphis.
For the first time that I’m aware of, a nice group of Elvis movie scripts were offered to the public. We will look at these separately in another post in a few weeks. Most of the Elvis autographs, rings, and apparel sold at this auction will show up later as ElvisBlog continues its three popular series on these items of special interest. But that still leaves plenty of goodies to cover here now.
Signed and Inscribed Guitar Case:
This autographed hard-shell acoustic guitar case has an interesting story. Elvis loved to ride horses, and, in February 1967, he purchased a 163-acre ranch just across the Mississippi state line, naming it “Circle G” after Graceland. Later that year, an auction was held to sell off some excess equipment along with a few personal belongings of Elvis. Two young ladies named Peggy Ferrell and Diana Hoover, roommates at the time, attended this auction. Peggy bid $15 on the battered guitar case, said to be one of the first owned by Elvis.
Somehow, the girls were able to get Elvis to sign the case, “To Peggy and Diana from Elvis Presley” with a bold marker on the inside bottom felt.
Forty-five years later, at an October 2012 Heritage auction, the case sold for $5,000. Fast forward four years, and this signed guitar case sold for $9,375 at the Auction at Graceland. That includes the 25% percent premium for Graceland. The net of $7,500 for the seller made a cool $2,500 profit.
This is a good example of how the Auction at Graceland has raised the bid prices for Elvis memorabilia. Still, scoring a profit doesn’t happen every time, and there has even been a few cases where the resell lost money for the owner. It must be an intriguing mystery to figure out what items are underpriced and could payoff later like this guitar case did.
Elvis Tonight – 8:00 p.m. Banner:
This has to be the biggest piece of Elvis memorabilia ever reported on this blog. The new owner better have a huge wall to mount it on, because it measures 4 x 19 feet. But the banner has two other things going for it. It was was produced to hang outside the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine for Elvis’ concert on August 17, 1977. It was to be the first stop on a new tour. Elvis never made it, of course, dying the day before.
The second feature adding value to the banner is that it was used during the making of the 1981 film This Is Elvis. The film’s director had it hung above the door to the Civic Center just as it would have appeared on the day Elvis was supposed to play. The photo above is from the movie.
This was a high interest item with 25 total bids running the price up to $4,250.
Huge Elvis Signatures:
While we are talking huge Elvis goodies, check out this panel with four autographs. It measures 8-3/4” wide by 17-1/4: long, plus the matting and frame. Col. Parker apparently had Elvis create them as artwork for posters, menus, photo albums, postcards, album covers, etc.
This signature measures almost five inches wide, possibly one of the largest Elvis signatures in existence. The Best Wishes Elvis Presley inscription is almost six inches wide.
Some well-heeled Elvis autograph collector shelled out $6,000 for this unique collectible.
1971 Colt Lawman MKIII .357 Magnum Revolver:
What would an Elvis auction be without at least one firearm? The bidding on the Colt .357 Magnum topped out at $20,000. The auction website says, “Perhaps never again will one see such a mountain of evidence attesting to a gun being owned and used by Elvis Presley.”
This proof of Elvis’ ownership is the Federal Firearms Acquisition and Disposition Record completed by Frontier Gun Shop when Elvis bought the pistol. It contains the gun’s model and serial number, plus Elvis’ name and Beverly Hills address. This is so solid it makes the accompanying letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated almost superfluous.
Elvis must have really liked horse head rings, because at least three have been reported here after sales at auctions. To my eye, this one has nowhere near the visual appeal as the other two. See what you think.
While these other rings were loaded with diamonds, the one at the Auction at Graceland had just a single ruby for the horse’s eye. Unfortunately, there was no photograph offered taken. from the top, which might have given a better idea of what the ring looks like.
This view doesn’t do much except reinforce the idea that it’s a very weird ring. No wonder Elvis gave it away to bodyguard Sam Thompson. It sold for $12,500, but two other outstanding rings at the Auction at Graceland sold for $35,000 and $40,000.
Elvis Presley Birth Record Document from Delivering Physician:
This item is so unique that the auction website offered a short video from the previous owner to tell the story of how he acquired it back in 1994. The person is actor John Corbett, who made reference in the video to his roles in Northern Exposure and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He did not relate how much he paid for it, but it certainly had to be less than the $80,000 it sold for this time. Note that Elvis’ name is spelled wrong.
Included with the birth record was a newspaper article on Dr. Robert Hunt, who was primarily a birth doctor for the poor rural families of northern Mississippi from 1913 until the early 50s. He brought 1,845 babies into existence, and Elvis was number 920. The delivery cost $15.
1973 American Express Card:
This is another item John Corbett put up for sale at the auction, but he did not make a profit on it. The website says he paid nearly $60,000 for it in 1994, but brought only $37,500 this time. On the video, Corbett admits he got carried away bidding against the Hard Rock Café who had considerably deeper pockets than his.
Of course, the card had Elvis’ signature on the back, but as we have seen, the value of his autograph varies widely depending on what item he signed.
Loving You Pants:
Elvis apparel is always popular at the auctions, especially if photos are available showing Elvis wearing an item of clothing. That is certainly the case with these western-style pants he wore in the movie Loving You.
It also helps if the clothing has labels sewn in that have Elvis’ name on them. Although ELVIS PRESLEY is faded here, it can be made out with the naked eye.
The website made it a point to say that Elvis actually wore these pants during filming. I suspect this was because the wardrobe department produced extra back-up pairs that didn’t get worn. One of these showed up at the Heritage Ultimate Elvis Auction in 2010, and it sold for over $20,000. Now the pair of pants he actually did wear just went for $42,500.
Elvis’ cufflinks do not show up at auctions very often, so this pair generated heavy bidding and topped out at $8,750. I am perplexed at this high price because the cuff links are not the kind of fine jewelry Elvis usually bought. The metal is not gold; it is called goldtone. The inlay is faux mother-of-pearl, and the stone in the center is a rhinestone, not a diamond.
Maybe the bidders were encouraged by a cute story concerning the cuff links. Over the years, Elvis gave many gifts to friend and back-up singer J.D. Sumner. Some were serious valuable items, others were just for fun. Sumner had so many of these that ultimately he hung them on a faux ficus tree in his office. It became known as the Elvis Tree, and these cuff links dangled from it for years until Sumner passed away.
Hilton Hotel Hanging Banner:
We opened with a banner, so we’ll close with another. At 6-1/2 x 36 inches (12 x 44 framed), it is much smaller, but it sold for more money. There were 31 bids placed on this banner, more than any other item, and it topped out at $6,000.
The banner was a clever invitation to Elvis’ concert that night, and it had a RSVP envelope enclosed. I wonder what it took to be on the guest list of those who received this banner/invitation.
Next week we’ll take a look at Elvis movie scripts from the auction. Down the road, we’ll cover the autographs, rings, and clothing.
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