Photos and text used by permission, copyright 2018 GracelandAuctions.com
This will mark the eleventh Graceland Auction to be featured on ElvisBlog. I love following these things, and it’s fun to talk about the items that interest me. The auction websites always provide descriptions of the lots, and I’ve noticed they have gotten longer. This time, some are very long and they include wonderful historical footnotes to Elvis’ life and career that you possibly don’t already know. The descriptions are also well-written and read like little essays.
Thanks to permission from Graceland Auction Consignment Director Jeff Marren and Managing Director Laura Pickett, I’ll reproduce several descriptions here in their entirety.
1956 Advertising Poster for RCA Singles “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel”:
“In November of 1955, RCA bought Elvis’ contract from Sun Records. Elvis was a budding star with an original beat, and wow, how this gamble would pay off for RCA. Elvis’ first studio album was released by RCA in March of 1956 and was the first rock and roll album to make the top of the Billboard charts, remaining at number 1 for 10 weeks.
“On July 2, 1956, the RCA recording sessions for “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog” and “Any Way You Want Me” saw Elvis completely take over the studio for the first time, demanding more than two dozen takes of each of the first two songs as he effectively produced them on the spot. Recognizing the potential, RCA quickly released “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” as a single on July 13, 1956, soon after which both songs vied for position in the top spots on the Billboard charts and combined spent more than 55 weeks in the top 100. This release became the most successful double-sided hit in the Billboard top 100 charts and was a multi-million-dollar-selling single for RCA. “
There are actually two versions of this 16” X 11” promotional poster, one with “Hound Dog” on top, and the other with ‘Don’t be Cruel.” Both songs were so strong that RCA had to find a way to give top billing to both. After all, the poster does say, “the song he exploded on TV,” and they both did that.
For what it’s worth, I still love “Hound Dog” a lot and “Don’t Be Cruel” almost as much. But after hearing “Jailhouse Rock” about a thousand times, I don’t much care for it anymore.
The minimum bid for the promotional poster was $400, but it went for $5,625, way more than I guessed 38 bids really ran up the price.
Dining Room Chairs from the Graceland:
“Elvis dated Linda Thompson for just over four years between 1972 and 1976, and it was in 1974 that the pair undertook some renovations at Graceland, the home they shared at the time. During this redecorating, the Jungle Room saw the green carpet and furry furniture installed, the pair of custom-made blue peacock stained glass windows by Laukhuff Stained Glass were positioned to flank the doorway entrance to the music room, and the dining room was updated with new furnishings in shades of red. The offered two high-back cushioned dining chairs, one of which is an armchair, were those acquired for this dining room redesign.
“The red upholstered chairs with diamond patterned stitching and silver stud accents sit atop wooden legs and center brace. The high-style chairs were used at Graceland from this period in 1974 through Elvis’ death in 1977. The chairs, each measuring 60 inches in height, 23 inches in width and 22 inches in length, emanate from the 1999 Graceland Archives Auction (lot C146) and are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the 1999 Graceland Archives auction and a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
At the 1999 auction, these chairs were estimated to go for $10-12,000, but nobody felt they were worth that much. So, the chairs were back for sale in 2018 with a minimum bid of just $2,500, and they sold for $8,125.
Signed Page from Mr. RHYTHM Magazine:
“The early Mr. Rhythm souvenir picture album from 1956 contained eight interior pages that include images of Elvis, the Louvin Brothers, Benny Martin, June Carter, Justin Tubb, and Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, a lineup of performers that toured with Elvis in February of 1956. On the interior page opposite the one featuring Elvis singing was an image of Elvis signing autographs for female fans. Offered is that single page signed by Elvis, with a big bold blue signature that appears vertically across his white checked jacket in the black-and-white photo.
“The caption under the horizontal image reads ’Backstage while waiting his turn on the show Elvis signs autographs for fans who have outmaneuvered the stage door guard. And after his spot on the show fans will overrun the stage to see and talk with Elvis in person.’ The page has been skillfully removed from the souvenir album for display purposes and was obviously treasured by the Elvis admirer who likely hung the signed picture, as evidenced by the small corner pinholes.
“After Elvis’ contract was purchased by RCA in November 1955 and Elvis’ first single release under RCA hit number 1 on the charts, the marketing machine went into full swing, and one of the early promotions to be printed in December 1955 was this Mr. Rhythm concert program. The souvenir program was intended to be sold at Elvis’ appearances while on tour in 1956. This iconic example of an early-career Elvis signature appears on the single page that measures 8 by 10 inches.”
I thought the minimum bid of $750 was low, and that was confirmed when the signed magazine page went for $3,375. A possible reason for part of this strength is the photo on the reverse side. I love this one.
Have you ever seen this picture? It’s new to me, and it is classic.
Another item at the auction is an autographed back cover of a Mr. Rhythm magazine. It appears that it was not the same one that the signed page above came from.
The back cover picture is a studio portrait image of Elvis by William Speer. It was taken at the same 1955 shoot that produced the image on the 2015 Elvis stamp.
Although the autographed back cover of Mr. Rhythm had the same $750 minimum as the autographed page interior page, it went for less at $2,500.
Elvis Presley Signed 1964 Viva Las Vegas Soundtrack 45 Record Sleeve in Framed Display with Two Lobby Cards:
“Viva Las Vegas is considered by many to be one of Elvis’ best films, highlighted by legendary songs and the natural chemistry between the two stars, Elvis and Ann-Margret. Elvis plays Lucky Jackson, who heads to Las Vegas to win the Grand Prix. In the process of raising the money he needs to repair his race car, he crosses paths with Rusty Martin, the swimming instructor played by Ann-Margret. The movie was a box office hit and one of the top-grossing films of 1964. Perhaps the success was due to the allure of the stars, the fun, fast-paced plot, the promotion and marketing of the film, or a combination of all three.
“Offered is a handsome display that captures the dazzling excitement of the film, with the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack 45 white interior record sleeve signed in black ink on the upper right “Thanks Elvis Presley” taking center focus. The white interior signed sleeve sits adjacent to the full color picture sleeve, and the pair are framed on two corners with a flourish of playing cards.
“The 45 sleeves are flanked above and below by two lobby cards from the film: the top features Ann-Margret with the title ‘Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret make with a wicked watusi to C’mon Everybody and the bottom lobby card shows Elvis wearing a cowboy hat with the caption ‘A Las Vegas nightclub shakes and quakes when ‘go-go’ Elvis Presley lets loose with a number.’ Each section is matted in peach, adding a colorful flair to the display. The film itself was anything but short on color and this bold display perfectly reflects that vibrant vibe. This wonderfully framed artifact from the Elvis movie that always ranks near the top of fans’ lists measures 37 by 20 inches and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
I have grumbled for years that many people offering things autographed by Elvis could have generated more money if they had properly displayed them. This is a prime example proving my point. The owner started a simple signed inner sleeve from the 45 EP ELVIS – Viva Las Vegas.
Next, the color outer sleeve.
Then, to really make an impressive display, two lobby cards were added, playing cards were placed at six places, and everything was matted and framed.
The minimum bid was $2,500, and only three bids were placed, but the winning one was for $6,250. Now that’s the way to do it.
14K Gold Bulova Wristwatch with “EP” Engraved on the Reverse:
“Bulova was founded in 1875 and reincorporated in 1923 as Bulova Watch Company before being sold to Citizen in 2007, an American manufacturer with a Swiss-made line that was formerly known as Bulova Accutron. Elvis owned several models of the Bulova Accutron and one of its earliest designs dating back to the early 1960s is the model 521 TV 214 being offered. Accutron was first sold in 1960 and was known for the technological advancement of the use of a 360 hertz tuning fork rather than a balance wheel as its timekeeping element. This tuning fork was powered by a transistor circuit and as such could be considered the first electronic watch. This mechanization was the forerunner of the modern quartz watch and could be identified by the humming rather than ticking sound that was emitted from the timepiece.
“The early 521 TV 214 MO model with 14-karat gold filled case was unique in that it was the only model in the 214 series range that contained a mineral glass crystal and a snap-on back. In addition, the back case contained the battery port as well as an easy time setting mechanism.
“The offered handsome example exhibits “ACCUTRON” just below the “12” on its face, with the reverse stamped BULOVA 14K. Also on the reverse is a large “EP” engraved in ornate letters.
“The watch, with gold-colored metal wristband, comes with a letter from Jimmy Velvet’s Elvis Presley Museum that reads, in part, “This Bulova Accutron 14K, gold watch, ser. #138402, was the personal property of Elvis Presley which he gave to his bodyguard and wardrobe manager, Marty Lacker, and was on display in the Elvis Presley Museum for several years.”
“Elvis appreciated technology and adored accessorizing, making this advanced timepiece the perfect addition to his personal collection, and while perhaps the earliest model, it was not the only Bulova Accutron he would own in his lifetime. The watch face measures 1 1/4 by 1 1/4 inches. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
The estimate on this watch was dead on – $8,000 – $10,000. The winning bid was $9,000 plus the 25% buyer’s fee equals $11,250. All bid prices in this report include the 25%.
1942 Beretta Model M1934 9mm Pistol – General Omar Bradley Owned, Gifted to Elvis Presley, Later Gifted to Girlfriend Barbara Leigh:
With apologies to the Graceland Auction folks, I have deleted some of the background info on Beretta pistols and Gen. Omar Bradley’s career. Blog rules tell us readers will lose interest if we post long blocks of text.
“Beretta has a history of firearms manufacture dating back to 1526, however it was 1915 when Beretta supplied the military needs of World War I that the company made its first pistol. The model M1934 was its most popular pistol in the World War II era and became the standard issue to the Italian armed forces. The model 1934 is a semi-automatic pistol with relatively few parts and a simple slot at the top for ejection, making it easy to maintain.
“The offered gun contains several engravings and embellishments. The ornate “PB” Beretta logo is on both grips, and the serial number “935204” is on both the frame and the action of the weapon.
“This prime example was a gift to Elvis from General Omar Bradley, a friend and neighbor in Beverly Hills, likely on December 9, 1970. Elvis had the utmost respect and admiration for the general and had just days earlier on December 4 presented the general with a Christmas gift of a 24-karat gold engraved Colt M1911 pistol, which he likely purchased the day before during a gun-buying binge at Kerr’s Sporting Goods.
“General Omar Nelson Bradley was our nation’s final Five-Star General. The list of other Five-Star Generals includes Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and no less than George Washington himself. General Bradley was also the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“During World War II, he oversaw the first American airborne division followed by his first front-line command in Operation Torch serving under General Patton in North Africa. Bradley then commanded corps in the Allied invasion of Sicily.
“The pistol’s date of manufacture very well could indicate that the gun was acquired by General Bradley during the Operation Husky maneuver, when Sicily was secured by WWII Allied forces in 1943, an operation in which he was intimately involved. Further supporting this theory is that it makes a certain amount of sense that the General would have wanted to return Elvis’ gesture of gifting him such a significant presentation weapon by gifting Elvis a pistol with its own degree of significance. A pistol he acquired during one of the most important operations in WWII would qualify.
“This pistol represents not only a moment in history that changed the fate of the world, but it also embodies the affection of two famous men in very different fields who maintained a friendship based on mutual respect and admiration.”
Barbara Leigh was Elvis’ girlfriend for a short while in 1970. Surprisingly, Elvis gave the pistol to her. I can’t figure out why he would do that. How do you like the shirt he’s wearing in this picture?
The highly esteemed Beretta had a pricey minimum of $25,000 and topped out at $51,250.
Signed 1970 International Hotel Summer Festival Souvenir Concert Menu:
“Elvis redefined what it meant to play Las Vegas once he hit the stage at the International Hotel on July 31, 1969. After nearly a decade of focusing on movies, he came back with a vengeance, and between 1969 and 1976 performed more than 600 sold-out shows.
“The International Hotel recognized the selling power of the super star and placed his image on every conceivable item, including the dinner menus, which have become one of the most popular artifacts from the era among collectors. The menus varied in size and style throughout the period. Offered is a signed and inscribed menu from the 1970 International Hotel, August 10 – September 8 shows, with Elvis gazing towards the heavens as he is showering his audience with melodic tunes.
“This fine example is signed and inscribed, “To Sadie and Henry with Love and Respect Elvis Presley” on the menu’s cover. There is a large selection of adult beverages on the interior left page beneath a pink “Summer Festival” banner. The back sports a full-color advertisement for Elvis’ box set Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Vol. I. One of the most sought-after menus, this exemplar is even more desirable with the touching, strong and bold inscription on the front. The menu measures 11 by 8 1/2 inches and is accompanied by a letter from Rich Consola as well as a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
The minimum bid was $1,500, which seems reasonable, but 20 bids later, the price topped out at $5,000
Hillcrest Home Walnut Desk and Chair:
“The house at 1174 Hillcrest Drive in the luxurious Trousdale Estates was purchased by Elvis in 1967 for $400,000. The French Regency style home, designed by architect Rex Lotery, was originally built in 1958. The 5,367-square-foot home had four bedrooms and five bathrooms, and featured entry gates, stone and brick decor and a swimming pool, all with panoramic views of both the city and the ocean.
“It was a paradise that Elvis, Priscilla and Lisa Marie enjoyed during their time in California until the home was sold in 1973. On September 14, 1980 an auction was conducted by Don B. Smith Auction Company of the personal property previously owned by Elvis and Priscilla Presley from their former home at 1174 Hillcrest Road in Beverly Hills.
“Throughout his career, Elvis focused on what he did best, entertaining fans, while the Colonel and Vernon were in charge of managing both his professional and personal business. However, Elvis still maintained his own personal offices at his various residences so that he too could “take care of business.” Offered is the large executive walnut desk and green chair that Elvis used in his Beverly Hills home, which was offered in this 1980 auction by the then-owner of the Hillcrest property. The desk and chair come with a plethora of documentation, including a copy of the cover of the auction catalog, a copy of the page listing for the desk that includes an image (one of the few items pictured in the catalog), and two letters from Jimmy Velvet. The letters are similar—one states in part:
“This walnut desk and green executive chair was owned and used by Elvis Presley at his home at 1174 Hillcrest Drive – Trousdale Estates – Beverly Hills, California.”
“When Elvis sold the house he left all of the furnishings. The woman who purchased the house sold the furnishings at auction in Hollywood at the Paladium [sic] on Sunset Boulevard. The Elvis Presley Museum purchased the desk & chair at the auction conducted by Don B. Smith Auction Co. of Memphis, Tennessee. It has been in the Elvis Museum for the past 15 years.
“This large desk, fit for a king, measures 29 (H) by 82 (L) by 38 (W) inches, the green fabric and vinyl chair measures 49 (H) by 28 (L) by 26 (W) inches, and the pair are accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
How about Elvis selling the place, moving out, and leaving all that stuff behind?
The estimate on this desk and chair was dead on at $5,000 – $7,000. It sold for $6,875.
Turquoise and Silver Statement Necklace Gifted to J.D. Sumner:
“Turquoise is an ancient gem that is thought to guarantee health, good fortune and protection from evil, and has been used frequently by Native American tribes for various adornments. The word “turquoise” comes from the French word “turquois,” meaning “Turkish,” likely because the stone first arrived in Europe from Turkey. In the west, Native Americans often used the stones for trade, in ceremony and to embellish jewelry.
“As Native American turquoise jewelry rose in popularity in the 1970s, Elvis often used the stones to enhance his jumpsuits, belts and jewelry. Elvis enjoyed wearing flamboyant accessories containing the stone and the offered necklace is an ideal example of his elaborate style. The necklace has 12 silver figures, each with 6 turquoise stones adorning both sides of the double-stranded chain from which a large center circular pendant with three additional figures hangs.
“The statement necklace was owned and worn by Elvis before gifting it to J.D. Sumner, with whom Elvis enjoyed a close relationship. J.D. Sumner was the leader of The Stamps Quartet, the backup singing group for Elvis in the 1970s. As a result of their special bond, J.D. Sumner was the recipient of Elvis’ generosity on many occasions, and this beautiful turquoise and sterling silver necklace is a fine example.
“The necklace comes with a letter signed by J.D. Sumner that states, “Sold to Chris Tassone for the sum of $5,000.00 US from J.D. Sumner a collection of Native jewelry that once belonged to Elvis Presley and given to me J.D. Sumner as a gift from Elvis Presley in early 1970’s. Three pieces are #1. Hand made Native silver and turquoise necklace. #2 Hand made Native silver and turquoise bracelet. #3 Hand made Native silver and turquoise leather belt.” Also included is a letter from Mr. Tassone describing his acquisition of these items from J.D. Sumner in 1987, in Florida during a recording session.
“The necklace and letters come with a modern print of a photo showing Elvis wearing what appears to be this necklace and wearing it well. A small “TCB” has been scratched on the reverse of the central pendant. The intricate and ornate chain measures 31 inches in length and the necklace’s pendant measures 4 by 4 inches. The necklace is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
This outstanding necklace went for $13,750, and the inclusion of a photo showing Elvis wearing it no doubt added to its value.
Stage-Used Black Binder That Held Song Lyric Sheets:
“There were several constants one could expect to see at Elvis shows during his tours in the 1970s. Souvenir scarves were a popular staple, as were the backstage cloth passes that the entourage and tour members would wear at the various venues during the tours as a means of security access. The third was the offered black binder/folio that was used during each of Elvis’ concerts to hold song lyric sheets and could often be spotted on stage with the King.
“Charlie Hodge functioned as Elvis’ stage manager and was not only the one who replaced the scarves that Elvis took from around his neck to give to eager fans, but also responsible for maintaining the folio with the lyric sheets that Elvis might wish to refer to during a performance. The binder often appeared on stage throughout the shows. Sometimes Elvis would simply use the lyric sheets as props during the performance since reading them was difficult under the stage spotlights.
“As keeper of the binder, Charlie would affix his own backstage passes to the outside of the vinyl folio and these stickers can be spotted in several of the four modern prints of photos that come with the lot showing Elvis on stage with this very binder. Several of the backstage pass stickers on the binder can be clearly seen in their precise positions.
“A true stage-used treasure, this binder is also accompanied by an affidavit from Elvis’ bodyguard Dick Grob which recounts in detail how the song lyrics were kept inside and how Elvis used the binder on stage at nearly every concert for years. He further tells how after Elvis’ passing he was charged by Vernon Presley with cleaning out the Lisa Marie. The binder was found with several other items, all of which were given to Dick Grob by Vernon Presley. The binder measures 14 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
How about Vernon giving Dick Grob a treasure trove of Elvis belongings. They’ve been showing up at Elvis auctions for decades. The price of this binder has now reached $6,875. I think the photo of it with Elvis beefed up the value.
RIAA Double Platinum Record Award for 1973 LP Aloha From Hawaii – Awarded in 1988:
“Colonel Parker called it the “first entertainment special to be broadcast live around the world.” Elvis’ “Aloha from Hawaii” concert was broadcast via satellite on January 14, 1973 from the Honolulu International Center, and it’s believed that over 1 billion fans viewed the concert worldwide. Fans from around the globe watched as the singing phenomenon took the stage and said “Aloha” to the world.
“The famed concert aired via satellite in over 40 countries in Europe and Asia (airing at a later date in the U.S.) and was the most expensive entertainment special of its time, costing approximately $2.5 million to produce. Shortly after this special aired, RCA released a double album of this celebrated concert that contained 30 songs and was an immediate, massive hit, as Elvis sang every song with the passion and energy only the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll could produce.
“The album, released in February 1973, reached number one on the Billboard charts and was only the second two-disc set of Elvis’ career. The album was certified Gold on February 13, 1973, Platinum and 2x Platinum on May 20, 1988, 3x Platinum on July 15, 1999 and 5x Platinum on August 1, 2002 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“Offered is a multi-Platinum award issued in 1988 that features two platinum-colored records above two platinum-colored cassette tapes flanking a center plaque that reads, “Presented to ELVIS PRESLEY to commemorate the sale of more than 2,000,000 copies of the RCA RECORDS album and cassette ‘ALOHA FROM HAWAII VIA SATELLITE.’” The award bears a hologram RIAA logo and the display is set against a black background. The album dominated the charts and sold half a million copies in only four weeks. The framed award measures 19 by 21 inches and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.”
I’ve seen a few record awards with two discs before, but never combined with two cassette tapes. This plaque greatly exceeded the minimum bid and went for $5,500.
Weren’t those item descriptions by Graceland Auctions great? They had to do tons of research to be able to come up with the same thing for all 206 items in the auction. I can’t wait to do a post with more items from this auction. There were enough rings to do a report on just them.
Photos and text used by permission, copyright 2018 GracelandAuctions.com
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