Category Archives: COLLECTORS

The Auction at Graceland — Postgame Show

We looked at the losers last week, so now it is time for the winners. I’ve followed dozens of Elvis auctions over the years, and there is no question that having this one at Graceland was a brilliant move. Some of the selling prices were incredibly high.

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Gemstone, Diamond and Gold Lion Pendant:

Elvis' Lion Head Pendant Pendant

Minimum bid – $10,000, Estimate – $20-30,000: Sold for $82,500

This 18-karat gold lion’s head pendant contains two emeralds for the eyes, a cabochon ruby in the mouth, and brow and mouth set with 24 single-cut diamonds with a total weight of approximately 0.48 carats. It was designed specifically for Elvis by his favorite Memphis jeweler Lowell Hays.

Elvis Wearing Lion's Head Pendant

Elvis wore this pendant on multiple occasions, including his meeting with President Nixon, his acceptance of the Jaycees Award as one of the Top Young Men in America, and Sonny West’s wedding.

Elvis and Nixon

As has been stressed here repeatedly, nothing boosts the price of Elvis clothes or jewelry like a photograph of him wearing it. The famous Elvis/Nixon picture (bestselling item at the Nixon Presidential Library gift shop and most requested document reproduction from the National Archives) probably added $50,000 to the value of this item, and made it the big winner at this auction.

 

1977 Cadillac Seville:

Elvis' 77 Cadillac from Auction at Graceland

Minimum bid – $50,000, Estimate – $100-120,000: Sold for $81,250

Although this car was number two on the high bid listing, it went for well under the estimate. Keep in mind that the estimate price is before the auction house tacks on their 25%. The sell price shown above includes this charge; actual bidding stopped at $65,000. Two weeks ago, Elvisblog posted a photo and report from a 1994 auction where this Caddy brought in $101,000 at auction. That came from an Elvis chat room, so it could be off. But, if not, I can’t figure out why the car didn’t sell for that much or more.

Elvis’ 1977 maroon and silver Cadillac Seville – V8 automatic is the last known Cadillac he drove (the night before his death), and it was also the last Cadillac that he purchased for his own personal use.
Note: The next highest priced item was Elvis’ opal and diamond ring at $38,750. There were two other rings, but we’ll skip them all here. They will show up soon in the next edition of the series Elvis Fabulous Rings.

 

Graceland Blueprints:

Blueprints for Graceland's First Floor

Blueprints for First Floor of Graceland

Minimum bid – $10,000, Estimate – $25-35,000: Sold for $35,000

On several TV shows prior to the auction, Priscilla stated the estate would be bidding on some items. This certainly had to be one of them.

Blueprints for Graceland Upstairs

Upstairs at Graceland

There are three framed and matted 1939 blueprints measuring 32 by 54 inches in this lot. I can see the value, but if I had $35,000 to spend on Elvis memorabilia, I’d get a couple of rings or some clothes.

 

Shooting Target:

Elvis' Graceland Shooting Target

Minimum bid – $500, Estimate – $1,200-1,500: Sold for $27,000

I couldn’t believe my eyes as the bidding unfolded on this police silhouette target. There must have been two or three collectors who really wanted this, because they bid it up to a ridiculous level. Yes, we know Elvis had these 36 by 44 inch targets set up inside the old Graceland smokehouse, so he and the boys could shoot through the door at them. But, I agree with the woman in the auction chatroom who questioned whether the bullet holes were made by Elvis or by his bodyguards when he wasn’t using it.

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1969 Las Vegas Show Agreement:

Elvis' Las Vegas Show Agreement

Minimum bid – $10,000, Estimate – $20-25,000: Sold for $27,500

This isn’t just any contract Elvis signed with the Las Vegas International Hotel. This is for his1969 return to live performances after the movie years. Elvis was to be paid $100,000 per week for fifteen performances. The full contract is thirteen pages long.

 

Overnight Army Pass:

Military Leave Pass Issued to Elvis Presley, 1958

Minimum bid – $1,500, Estimate – $4-6,000: Sold for $20,625

I don’t get it. What makes this worth so much more than any other Elvis signed article? It’s not something big like his enlistment papers or release documents. It’s an overnight pass.

While stationed in Germany, Elvis was issued this military leave pass granting him permission for an overnight leave of absence to visit a “US Area of Interest” from noon on October 4 and ordering his return prior to midnight on the evening of October 5, 1958.

So, what was this US Area of Interest? Elvis, Vernon, Grandmother Minnie, Red West, and Lamar Fike travelled to Bad Homburg. They ate dinner and spent the night at the Ritters Park Hotel.

 

Personal Message to Vernon:

Elvis' Personal Message Christmas Gift to His Father

Minimum bid – $1,500, Estimate – $3-5,000: Sold for $18,750

In 1976, Elvis wanted to give his father Vernon something special for Christmas, so he asked his friend Janelle McComb of Tupelo, Mississippi, to calligraph a personal message. It has Elvis’ signature at the bottom. The framed and matted message measures approximately 17 5/16 by 14 3/16 inches.

 

Baldwin Upright Piano:

Elvis' Baldwin Piano

Minimum bid- $10,000, Estimate – $25-35,000: Sold for $15,000

This upright piano from Elvis Presley’s Palm Springs home. The plate in the center says “Baldwin.” Includes attached music stand and bench. Too bad they couldn’t find just one photo of Elvis sitting on that bench playing the piano

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“Love Me Tender” Script:

Elvis' copy Love Me Tender Screenplay

Minimum bid – $1,500, Estimate – $4-6,000: Sold for $14,375

There were six items featured in the pre-auction promotion. The Martin guitar and the marriage certificate were over-valued and scared off bidders. The Caddy sold for much less than the estimate. However, the lion’s head pendant went for much more, and so did this script.

A number of things about the cover are interesting. The original title was The Reno Brothers back in August 1993. The script languished for years in pre-production, until hot young star Elvis was considered for a role in 1956. When his hit song “Love Me Tender” dominated the charts, the title was changed, as noted on the cover. Of course, many copies of the screenplay were printed, but this was Elvis’ own copy, as stamped in the upper left: “Please forward to: ELVIS PRESLEY.”

 

Library Card:

Elvis' Library Card from Auction at Graceland

Minimum bid – $5,000, Estimate – $12-15,000: Sold for $10,000

This is an important Elvis signature, a steal at half the price of the overnight pass. It is the second oldest known full Elvis signature, not counting a crayon box from when he was in first grade with ‘Elvis’ scrawled on it.

This signed library card was found by the librarian at the school which Elvis attended in Tupelo. Once the librarian realized Elvis’ fame, she searched through all of the books borrowed from the library by Elvis to find his signature, and discovered two cards. The second, from two days earlier than the offered card, is now in a private collection,

 

Okay, that is the top ten highest bid items (excluding the three rings to be covered later) at the Auction at Graceland. We’ll skip now to a couple of articles of Elvis clothing.

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White Puffy Shirt:

Elvis' White “Puffy Sleeve

Minimum bid – $3,000, Estimate – $7-9,000: Sold for $8,125

This is the shirt that one auction chatroom lady said she would love to sleep in because it touched Elvis’ body. Made for Elvis by the IC Costume Company, this shirt has puffy sleeves and cuffs that were a particular favorite of Elvis’ during the 1970s.

 

Used Concert Scarf:

Elvis Presley Used Concert Scarf

Minimum bid – $300, Estimate – $6-700: Sold for $5,625

Before the actual live auction on August 14, there had been a week of internet bidding. I checked it several times and noted very spirited bidding on this scarf. By the time the live auction started, forty-six bids had been made, so you knew something interesting was going to happen. And it did with the winning price going for eight times the estimate.

There have been other Elvis stage-worn scarves up for auction before, and they didn’t bring in this much money. It’s not because Elvis signed this one – the autograph is a printed facsimile. Maybe the included ticket stub added some value. Or, maybe the winning bidder was at that concert in Pittsburgh in 1976. Then it just might be worth shelling out $5,600 to get.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Too Pricey to Sell at the Auction at Graceland

Auction At Graceland

August 16 is the apex of Elvis Week, so a blog article posted on this date usually celebrates Elvis’ legacy and marvels at how the fans come back to honor him each year. Unfortunately, this theme has been covered by ElvisBlog several times already, and it’s hard to find new ways to say it. So, this year we’ll do a report on the marvelous auction of Elvis memorabilia that unfolded on Thursday night and early yesterday morning.

Everybody who follows ElvisBlog knows I cover several Elvis auctions every year. But the Auction at Graceland was different. We were able to watch all three-and-one-half hours of it on streaming video via LiveStream. I found it fascinating viewing.

 Terri Walker at Auction at Graceland

This is Terri Walker of Walker Auctioneers, a local Memphis company. This woman should have been hoarse after the first hour, because she talks non-stop. She’s pretty, funny, and excellent at pulling higher bids out of people. Once in a while you’d think the bidding stalled out at say $2,000, but she’d spike it up and the item would end up going for $6,000.

 Auction at Graceland View Screen

She had a staff of about ten people helping her, things like describing each item, spotting bidders, taking phone and internet bids, and recording all the pertinent stuff. Behind her is the screen showing the item under bid, often including alternative views.

 Chatroom at Auction at Graceland

The unexpected bonus to this online streaming of the auction was the chat room on the right of the screen. There were a hard-core group of folks doing most of the texting, and I found reading it strangely addicting. Here are three to give you an idea how it went.

Wendy Auliff: His body was in that…. I want it to use as my PJs. (describing the White Puffy Shirt)

Deborah: The same thing happened to me. I woke up and remember seeing the stage covered with flowers. I truly felt like I had stepped out of a dream and I don`t remember it to this day. (Response to someone talking about her first Elvis concert experience)

Kyle Vanover: This would be even cooler than having Fonzie’s little black book! (Comparison to Elvis’ Personal Address Book).

 

It will take more than one post to cover all the interesting items at this auction. So, let’s start with the ten who didn’t reach the minimum starting price or failed to meet the reserve (whatever that is).

 

1975 Martin D-28 Guitar:

Elvis' Martin D-28 Guitar

This Martin D-28 Guitar was gifted by Elvis to his friend and bodyguard Sam Thompson in January of 1977 and has an interesting history. It was later sold to the National Enquirer for use as a contest prize, which helped Thompson fund his college education. What it lacks is pedigree. It’s not one of Elvis’ early Martin guitars from the 50s. As they stated on the auction floor, Elvis used Gibson and Fender guitars before coming back to Martin in the late 70s.

This Martin D-28 guitar was one of six items featured in the pre-auction promotions, so they obviously had high hopes for it. Quite a few Elvis-owned guitars have brought in big bucks, but this one failed to generate the $30,000 minimum bid. The pre-auction estimate of $70-90,000 was wildly over-optimistic.

 

Address Books:

Elvis Address Book 1

Considering that there are four address books in this lot, I was very surprised no one offered the minimum bid of $7,000.

Elvis Address Book 3

The description on the auction website tried to beef up interest.

The books contain names, numbers and addresses for almost everyone in Elvis’ life including Priscilla, Colonel Parker, J.D. Sumner, Jerry Schilling, all his entourage members, old girlfriends both pre-and-post Priscilla, and countless others. Transport yourself back in time and live the life of Elvis through his personal contacts and business associates. The address books offer a peek into the life of the King.

 Elvis Address Book 2

Penguin Suit:

Elvis' Black and White “Penguin” Suit

Elvis jumpsuits are among the most desirable memorabilia items and sell for lots of money. This must have been the consideration when the targeting the estimate for this outfit at $70-90,000. However, although Elvis wore it one time on stage, it is not a jumpsuit and collectors bid accordingly (or didn’t bid, as it turned out).

This black and white suit, is referred to as the “penguin suit,” and was made in the mid-1970s for Elvis by the IC Costume Company. Elvis wore it as part of his off-stage wardrobe. On September 19th, 1975, in Las Vegas, Elvis was dressed in this suit, and because he was running behind schedule without time to change into a jumpsuit for the show, Elvis wore this suit on stage for that particular performance.

The Penguin Suit is still a valuable piece of Elvis clothing, so we will see it up again at auction. However, it needs to have a lower minimum bid than $40,000 it had this time.

 

Bean Bag Chair:

Elvis' Faux Fur Bean Bag Chair and Two Pillows

This faux leopard fur bean bag chair with small and large matching pillows was used in Elvis’ Chino Canyon, Palm Springs home. I saw it back in 1999 in Las Vegas when Graceland held a huge auction at the MGM Grand Hotel. I’ve often wondered why EPE dumped a lot of good stuff then. I’ll bet they wish they had most of it back now that they have opened the new Graceland Archives Experience.

Elvis Auction in Las Vegas, 1999

Anyway, the beanbag and pillows failed to generate the minimum bid of $2,000. It probably would have soared past that if a photo of Elvis sitting on it had been provided.

 

Molds for Elvis Sunglasses:

Molds Used to Create the Emblems for Elvis' TCB Sunglasses

When I saw the projected sell price of this item at $10-15.000, I said no way. You can buy the actual sunglasses for less than that, and they are much cooler. Here’s what the auction website description had to say about them.

An iconic part of Elvis history, Elvis’ sunglasses, whether aviator or neo-nautic style, are recognizable anywhere and all Elvis tribute artists and fans alike want “the look.” These iconic shades were customized by Dennis Roberts of the Optique Boutique in Los Angeles. The offered three molds are the original molds used by Dennis to create the gold and silver emblems that adorned Elvis’ glasses. The “EP” was typically placed on the bridge of Elvis’ aviator glasses, and the TCB logo with the lightning bolt adorned the temple arms.

Sounds good, but not worth the minimum bid of $4,000.

 

The Impersonal Life:

Elvis' The Impersonal Life” Book

There were a number of items at this auction that originally came from Ginger Alden. The folks in the chat room didn’t much like her. Maybe the bidders didn’t either, because not one would cover the $4,000 minimum on this book.

This surprised me, because it has a lot going for it. This copy of The Impersonal Life is signed on the interior “To Ginger, with love, E.P.” Ginger Alden states in an accompanying letter that the book was one which she and Elvis read together in bed. It also shows many passages and phrases underlined by Elvis, highlighting meaningful parts of the book or placing emphasis on certain words. Perhaps the fact that Ginger also made similar marks soured the bidders.

 

Numerology Pages:

Two Pages of Notes by Elvis on Numerology

This thing is really strange, and it’s no surprise that bidders didn’t think it worth the minimum of $5,000, let alone the projected $12-15,000. There is no way I can describe it better than this from the auction website.

Two pages of handwritten notes by Elvis written ten days prior to his death. These note pages were obtained directly from Ginger Alden, Elvis’ fiancée. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Ginger Alden stating that Elvis had written these notes during his visit to her Memphis home. She discusses in detail his interest in numerology and words and the ways in which each can be broken down into smaller parts, such as “his-story” or how the word woman is so appropriate because when you break it down into its two syllables it can be pronounced as “wo-man.

What???

 

Wrought Iron Chair:

Elvis' Yellow Wrought Iron Guitar

Like the beanbag chair, this yellow wrought iron chair came from Elvis’ Palm Springs home on Chino Canyon Drive. And it suffered the same fate. Bidders did not find it worth the $2,500 minimum. Again, a picture of Elvis sitting on it would have made a world of difference.

 

Personal Checkbook:

Elvis' Personal Checkbook

I thought this personal checkbook would make the minimum of $6,000, if not the estimate of $12-15,000. It got neither. It has 43 entries for checks Elvis wrote, so it certainly has his handwriting if not his autograph. He used it from May 21, 1975 to January 22, 1976. The checks totaled $89,000, showing Elvis’ incredible generous to his friends, family and even to strangers. This checkbook also contained a handwritten note giving his foreman an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii and a new car. The auction says, “This checkbook is a treasure trove of examples of Elvis’ generosity.” I can’t believe the stupid high prices some bidders paid for certain items at this auction, but passed on this checkbook register.

 

Marriage Certificate:

Elvis and Priscilla's Marriage Certificate

So, what do you think Elvis and Priscilla’s original marriage certificate would sell for? The pre-auction estimate was $40-60,000. Sorry, it didn’t even bring the minimum of $15,000. Again, I’m mystified by this, compared to what some other much less significant items went for.

This original Las Vegas, Nevada marriage certificate, dated May 5, 1967, is signed by Justice David Zenoff and best men, Marty Lacker and Joe Esposito, but not Elvis or Priscilla. The Clark County Nevada clerk claimed that the marriage certificate was mailed to Elvis and Priscilla, but came back to the county office marked “return to sender.” The clerk retained it in a file until selling it to Chris Davidson in 1995.

Can’t you just imagine her thinking: “That Elvis marriage certificate has been in the file for 28 years, and I’m the only one that knows it’s there. Screw it, I’m selling the thing and making some money.”

 

So, that’s Part 1 of our look at the Auction at Graceland results. Stay tuned for the big winners next week.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

The Auction at Graceland – Pregame Show

If you watch any of the morning shows on the networks or cable news channels, you have seen Priscilla promoting the upcoming Auction at Graceland.

Priscilla on Fox and Friends

If not, you probably have received emails about it. They’ve come in to me from four senders: Elvis Presley Enterprises, Graceland Insiders E-Newsletter, Graceland Insiders E-Blast, and Graceland.com. So, there is obviously a big push on to promote this auction.

 The Auction at Graceland

What’s the reason for all the hype? Well, it takes place on August 14, so that makes it one more thing to attract folks to Elvis Week. All 72 items will be on display at the new Graceland Archives Studio that opens on August 9. Sounds good, but don’t forget that the only way to get in the Archives Studio is by buying one of the Graceland ticket packages, the cheapest of which costs $37.

On her TV appearances, Priscilla has stated that the items for sale at the auction are not any that EPE owns. Rather they come from the private collection of Greg Page. So, who is this guy?

Greg Page

He was born in Sydney, Australia in 1972. In 1991 while attending Sydney’s Macquarie University to study Early Childhood Education, he teamed up with two fellow students to form The Wiggles, one of the world’s largest children’s entertainment brands.

The Wiggles

The Wiggles travelled all over the world to entertain children, live performances before more than 4 million people. They also recorded well over 20 CDs and 22 DVDs with combined sales of over 17 million. Greg Page obviously made a lot of money, and he used much of it to amass a sizeable collection of memorabilia from his favorite singer, Elvis Presley. In 2009, he opened The King’s Castle, Australia’s only permanent exhibit of Elvis artifacts.

 The King's Castle

Page’s collection has totaled as many as 1500 items, so he is selling just a small portion at the Graceland auction. The photo below shows a few of the items on display at the King’s Castle, but that room is pretty bare now. The piano is now Item #55 at The Auction at Graceland. The gold ‘throne chair’ is item #63, and the couch is item #68.

King's Castle Display

 

Greg Page also combined his affection for Elvis with his own musical ability and worked with the TCB Band in several concert settings.

Las Vegas 2003

The above Las Vegas show took place in 2003.

Las Vegas wwith Jerry Schiff

In this photo, bass player Jerry Scheff is on stage with Greg Page at the Stardust concert.

Greg Page and James Burton and Glen D. Hardin

Here we see Glen D. Hardin, James Burton, and Greg Page in concert in Sydney in 2006.

Greg Page and James Burton 2006 Sydney

This is a better shot of James Burton and Greg Page

 

When I took my first look at the items to be auctioned at Graceland, some of them looked familiar. Over a dozen auctions of Elvis memorabilia have been covered on ElvisBlog, so this is no surprise. Look at Item #1, a signed library card.

Elvis' Library Card from Auction at Graceland

It has a minimum opening bid of $5,000 and an estimated top bid of $10-12,000. It is accompanied by a letter from the archives of Graceland stating that they have no full Elvis Presley signature pre-dating it. The only earlier signature of Elvis they have is a scrawling of “Elvis” on a crayon box from when Elvis was in 1st grade. I’m sure this item will get the minimum bid and probably beat the estimate as well, because another Elvis Presley signed library card from a year later went for $7,500 at a November 10, 2010 Heritage auction.

Elvis' Library Card from 2010 Heritage Auction

Next, we see Item #62, Elvis’ 1977 Cadillac Seville. The minimum bid is $50,000, and the estimate is $100-120,000.

Elvis' 77 Cadillac from Auction at Graceland

Again, I have no doubt they will get this, maybe more. Here is the photo of it from a 1994 auction where it sold for $101,000.

Photo of Elvis' 77 Caddy for 1991 Auctions

 

There is so much more to write about with the Auction at Graceland. There will definitely be a Postgame Show, so stay tuned.

 

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Elvis Scrapbooks — Part 5

Back in 2011, ElvisBlog took a four-part look at a big scrapbook compiled by a loyal Elvis Fan. Recently, I came into possession of another Elvis scrapbook.

Elvis Fan Scrapbook Cover

Like the earlier one, this scrapbook had all sorts of pictures and small newspaper clippings posted on the pages. However, it also had numerous larger newspaper articles (mostly published in the first few years after Elvis’ death) stored in the back of the book. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting elements of this scrapbook.

 

Dear Abby - Date with Elvis

This is a pretty busy page, but the best thing to me is the letter to Dear Abby at the top left, which is exactly what the title says – an advertisement for a date with Elvis. Here are the key parts:

“DEAR ABBY: Please don’t think I am some kind of kook. I am an attractive 24-year-old, level-headed girl who would like to know if there is a way I can get a date with Elvis… I know there must be at least five-million other girls who would like to date him, and he has to date someone, so why not me? I honestly believe I could show him a good time.”

Hmm, it sounds like ‘date’ and ‘good time’ might be a code words for something else, but it must have cleared Dear Abby’s guidelines.

“Please print this and maybe, just maybe, Elvis will realize he might be missing the chance of a lifetime if he doesn’t meet me.”

More code words? In any event, the writer convinced Abby to assist in her effort.

“Keep my name and number, Abby, but don’t publish it. If Elvis wants it, he can get in touch with me through you.”

WAITING FOR ELVIS IN LOUSIANA

Who knew anyone sent questions about Elvis to Dear Abby. I wish the scrapbook fan had included the reply.

 

Always Elvis Wine

The “Always Elvis” in the title refers to a wine of the same name. Years ago, I picked up a point-of-sale poster for it.

Always Elvis Wine Poster

Here’s the history of Always Elvis wine as explained in the article. E.J. Weiferman ran a little winery named Frontenac Vineyards in Paw Paw, Michigan. Its two main labels were Purple Plum and Bahama Mama. With this sound footing in quality wines, Weiferman decided to import a low-alcohol mix of sweet Italian Asti Summate and fruity German Moselle. He called it Blanc D’Oro, which means white gold in Italian.

It’s hard to determine whether Weiferman or the article’s writer used the strangest lines.  To justify putting Elvis’ name and likeness on a wine, Weiferman said, “Have you ever seen a blue nun? There’s no reason why we can’t have an Elvis Presley.

The reporter mused, “If two star-crossed lovers share a glass, they can’t help falling in love. Then, he ratcheted down the praise with, “After polishing off a bottle, anyone will feel like a hound dog. Then, he showed his real skepticism, “Don’t worry, it won’t etch your plastic glasses or keep your gasoline from freezing.”

 

Elvis Album Insert

This is actually a paper poster that had to be folded twice to fit in the back of the scrapbook. I have no idea where it came from, but one guess is that it might have been an album insert.

 

Elvis Dollar Bill

These two things were on separate scrapbook pages, but it makes more sense to show them together. The ad says these dollar bills are real U.S Currency with the face of George Washington replaced with Elvis. It also says that this is completely legal. (Sure doesn’t seem like it would be.) Apparently the scrapbook fan ordered an Elvis bill for $3.99 and received one with a different Elvis face than either of those shown. It comes in a heavy duty clear-plastic cover, so you can touch it, but is well done and looks great. I’d pay $3.99 for one, too.

 

Sales Figures on Elvis What Happened

There are three notable points on the article. First, the AP drawing of Elvis leaves a lot to be desired. The second is about the content in the center box. On the Saturday after Elvis died, the Anderson (SC) Independent published their Elvis Presley Memorial edition. Apparently, someone (or several folks) went around collecting the papers from people’s driveways. The publisher posed an open apology for those subscribers victimized by the widespread thefts.

The third point concerns that crummy hatchet-job book Elvis: What Happened? by Red West, Sonny West and Dave Hebler. It came out fifteen days before Elvis died, and is thought by many to be a contributing factor. Originally, Ballantine Books published 400,000 copies, but within six hours of Elvis’ death, they ordered another 250,000 more. Even that was not enough, and Ballantine kept the presses going full blast, cranking out 3.5 million copies in the next week. K-Mart alone ordered 2 million copies.

 

Elvis - Bad Hair

The main things that sticks out on this page is the horrible picture of Elvis. It appeared in the Anderson Independent after Elvis died, and it seems the purpose was to present him in the most unflattering way. The caption underneath says FAT and Frustrated. One thought: Did Elvis ever wear his hair like that?

 

Dedicated Elvis Fan

This article came from that dubious tabloid MIDNIGHT sometime in 1974. It starts out well, saying, “Each year, members of the Elvis Presley Flaming Star Fan Club in Seattle celebrate their hero’s birthday, complete with cake, candles and choruses of “Happy birthday, dear Elvis…”

Then it focused on one member of this fan club who spent $500 to fly with the group to Las Vegas and see Elvis perform. “That’s a lot of money, considering that she and her husband live on his monthly Social Security check,” said the article. The woman paid for it by babysitting and pawning her wedding rings. This near obsession was the result of meeting Elvis at the Seattle Center Coliseum on April 29, 1973. “He put his hands on my shoulders, bent over and kissed me gently on the cheek… it was the biggest thrill of my life. I was shaking like a leaf.”

On one hand, it was a nice story of a dedicated Elvis fan and the sacrifices she made to see him perform. On the other hand, it seems awful close to hinting that Elvis fans are a bunch of pathetic fools.

 

Elvis Will Order Form

Step right up and get your very own copy of Elvis Presley’s 14 page will for just $3.00. If our scrapbook fan actually ordered from this ad, she didn’t include the will in the book.

 

Plot to Steal Elvis' Body

This page is a real hodge-podge of stuff. The print may be too small for you to read the title of the article to the left of the lowest Elvis picture. It says “Ransom Planned for Elvis’ Body. This is not some junk from MIDNIGHT or National Enquirer. This is an AP story.

It’s about a 26-year old man who planned to steal Elvis’ body from the Memphis Funeral Home and demand $10 million ransom for its return. However, heavy police security prompted him to change his plan to a break-in at Elvis’ mausoleum (this was before the body was moved to the Meditation Garden at Graceland). The man was arrested for trespassing near Elvis’ crypt, and actually admitted his plot to a policeman who told AP. What was that about pathetic fools?

The scrapbook contained other article about Elvis funeral and several about the first few years of the annual August 16 celebrations in Memphis. We’ll take a look at them in a future article.

 

© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

According to Wikipedia — The 10 Weirdest Elvis Presley Memorabilia

It would be impossible to come up with new ElvisBlog topics each week with the helpful tool of Google searches. Also, if there was a Guinness World Record for the most different Elvis searches, I might qualify. The cool thing is that you never know what you’ll find if you scroll down the search results far enough, especially the Images results. For example, how about this photo?

Xray of Elvis' Arm

 

When I clicked on the picture above, I linked to this:

Wikicollecting

Have you ever heard of Wikicollecting? It’s a new one to me. Like everything else on Wikipedia, Wikicollecting lets anybody post, update, edit, and illustrate any topic. So there is no way of knowing who created “The Top 10 Weirdest Elvis Collectibles” in 2012, and named the x-ray images above as the sixth weirdest. 

Whoever it was, they actually listed eleven items, including an honourable mention (looks like our list provider is from England, or at least doesn’t know how to spell honorable). He provided pictures of just four of the eleven items, and they were all rather small and posted out of sequence. So, here is the Wikicollecting list “The Top 10 Weirdest Elvis Memorabilia,” with additional text and images thanks to the magic of Google.

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Honorable Mention —  Medical Swab:

Elvis Swab

A medical swab used on Elvis was sold by Julien’s Auctions for $468.75 in 2010.  The swab was taken at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis on December 20, 1967 and was obtained by a medical technician at the hospital.

 

# 10  –  Signed Cast:

Elvis' Twice-Signed Cast

A cast signed by the King of Rock and Roll is being offered for sale by Elvisowned.com, a company specializing in the sale of items once owned by Elvis Presley. The asking price is $1,700. The cast belonged to fan Diana Henry who saw Elvis in concert in the Las Vegas Hilton in 1975. According to the website Elvis stopped his show and went into the crowd to sign Diana’s cast.

You will note that Elvis signed the cast twice. That’s because a drop of Elvis’ sweat fell on the autograph below the elbow and smudged his last name. Diana begged Elvis to sign it a second time, which he did.

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# 9  -  Strand of Hair:

(Could not find a picture of this one)

A single strand of Elvis’ hair was sold for $1,700 at a Henry Aldridge & Son auction in 2009.

The auction house said the strand was owned by Thomas B. Morgan Jr., an Elvis fan and former administrator at Shelby County sheriff’s office. Morgan told auctioneers he received the hair follicle from Homer Gilleland, Elvis’ personal Hairdresser for more than 20 years.

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# 8  –  Horse Blanket:

Elvis' Red Horse Blanket for Rising Sun

Another item available from ElvisOwned.com is a red horse blanket used by Elvis for his horse Rising Sun and his black horse. It was also used on Priscilla Presley’s horse and the website claims that hairs from the horses are still visible on the blanket. It has been in storage since 1977 and is offered at a price $1800.

Elvis’ cousin Harold Lloyd gave this to his friend Rhonda in 1977. Rhonda’s sister dated Charlie Hodge for almost 4 years. Rhonda is in the background of the last picture taken of Elvis Presley returning home from the dentist in the morning hours of his death. She had actually stopped by to see Harold when Elvis came home for his last time.

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# 7 — TV Remote:

(Could not find a picture of this one)

Elvis’ TV remote is being offered for sale by ElvisOwned.com for $1,800. The large remote, for an RCA 2000 television set, was owned by Greg Page, who owned the television after Elvis.

This remote must have sold since the Wikicollecting list was published, and its listing and picture disappeared from the website. Even the magic of Google search couldn’t come up with a photo of it.

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# 6 — Wrist X-ray:

Xray of Elvis' Arm

A set of x-rays of Elvis’ arm sold for $3.500 at a Farm Bureau auction in 2008. The x-rays showed a wrist fracture that Elvis suffered during a karate session.

 

# 5 — Benadryl Prescription Bottle:

Elvis Spare Dental Crown

A prescription bottle for Benadryl 50mg, prescribed to Elvis Presley on 8/15/77 sold for $7000 at a Julien’s Auctions sale in 2009. The bottle was prescribed by Elvis’ personal physician, Dr. Nick (Dr. George C. Nichopoulas) the day before Elvis’ death.

 

# 4 — Dental Crown:

Elvis Spare Dental Crown

Elvis Presley’s porcelain dental crown, which came to be known as the ‘King’s Crown’, was bought by a dentist for $8,150 at Omega Auctions in March 2012. Presley had a gap between his teeth, which he found embarrassing. He decided to have one of his front teeth crowned to hide it. This crown was created by Henry Weiss, Presley’s dentist until 1971.

Weiss always kept an extra copy of the crown. When Elvis cracked his crown on a microphone during a performance, Weiss’s son, S. Lewis Weiss, flew the replacement crown to Las Vegas.

 

# 3 — Exercise Bike:

Elvis' Exercise Bike

An exercise bike owned by Elvis was sold by Guerney’s Auctions in 2008 for $12,000.

The gold exercise bike has a tension control knob and speedometer/odometer between handlebars. Odometer reads 69 miles. Manufactured by Barkleigh. In fine condition, with some light wear, the bike was accompanied by a COA from Greg Howell, the exhibition and collection manager of Graceland.

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# 2 — Autopsy and Embalming Tools:

Elvis Autopsy and Embalming Tools

In 2010, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers announced that it planned to sell the autopsy and embalming tools used on Elvis. The tools were offered for sale by an anonymous retired embalmer from the Memphis Funeral Home, and they were expected to bring $14,000. Shortly after the planned sale was announced, the parent company of the funeral home, Service Corporation International, claimed ownership of the tools. Due to this dispute over ownership, the items were withdrawn from the sale and have not appeared on the collectors’ market since.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers had two lots of Elvis’ funereal memorabilia slated for the auction, including funeral invoices, a toe tag once attached to the King’s corpse, embalming needles, forceps, lip brushes, needle injectors, an arterial tub, and an eyeliner pencil allegedly used to prepare the body for the funeral.

The embalmer said he kept the items after embalming Elvis the night of Aug. 17, 1977. Service Corporation International, the corporate parent of Memphis Funeral Home, had questioned the authenticity of the items and said the embalmer had no right to take them from the business. “Rather than argue with anyone, it’s better to just withdraw the item,”

My Google Images search did not come up with a photo of toe tag, actually marked “John Doe.” This was used as a replacement after the original was stolen by an eager fan during the chaos at the hospital. Unfortunately, the original will probably show up for sale someday.

# 1 — Lockheed Jetstar Jet:

Elvis' Jetstar

The last jet Elvis ever owned, a 1962 Lockheed Jetstar JT 12-5, was sold for $700,000 in 2008 by Kruse International. During his lifetime, Elvis owned three jets. The other two are in the Graceland Museum.

 

Okay, that’s what one person calls the ten weirdest Elvis memorabilia. I really don’t see what’s so weird about the TV remote, the horse blanket, or the exercise bike. The weird thing to me is some of the prices mentioned. $468 for the medical swab – you can buy Elvis autographs for less than that. $1,700 for a strand of hair – way too much.

Maybe the signed cast is worth $1,700 – it does have two Elvis autographs on it. I’m not sure about $700,000 for the Jetstar. Maybe if it came with photos of Elvis inside it or standing in front, but think about all the Elvis memorabilia you could buy for that kind of money.

The arm e-rays are certainly weird, as is the replacement tooth crown. And finally, two items are not just weird, but also in horrible taste. How sick is it to spend $7,000 on Elvis’ bottle of Benydryl? And the embalming stuff is just too grisly. I hope that Service Corporation Inonaternatil destroyed them after pulling them from the auction

 

 

© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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Elvis, Shelly Fabares, and an Online Auction

From time to time ElvisBlog receives e-mails about charity events that include some Elvis-related item for sale.  They ask if their worthy cause could be mentioned on the blog.  Well, we don’t really do announcements, so, unless there is some way to turn it into a full length article, I’m not able to help.

This week I received an e-mail from the Gulf Regional Advocacy Center, which I never heard of.  The message explains that they provide high quality legal representation for poor prisoners facing the death penalty in Texas and Louisiana.  I thought, “this is a real long shot,” but I read on.  It turns out they are having an online auction, including a signed lobby card from Elvis’ movie Spinout.  The e-mail included a picture of the item which piqued my interest, because the film’s title on it is California Holiday, not Spinout.

I knew California Holiday was the name used for the movie in several foreign countries, including England and Australia.

As you have seen in numerous ElvisBlog articles, I like to follow auctions of Elvis memorabilia and note what prices the items bring.  So, now I’m kind of interested in this charity auction, because this is a pretty rare Elvis lobby card.  Plus, it also has an extra kicker – it will be signed by Shelly Fabares, Elvis’ costar in Spinout.  I have always been a big Shelly Fabares fan and figured someday I’d do a blog article about her.  So, now is a good time to do it.

 

The folks at the Gulf Regional Advocacy Center sent me a current photo of Shelly, who is now 68.  The hair kind of set me back, so I Googled to see if there were other fairly recent photos of her without the multi-colored hair.  Not really.

Here she is with Mike Farrell, her husband of 28 years.  You remember him from playing B.J. Hunnicutt in Mash from 1975 to 1983.  It appears they both have been involved in many environmental and social causes over the years.

 

Shelly’s hair was curly, but not multi-colored in this photo taken at the 1991 Emmy Awards.  She starred on TV’s Coach from 1989 to 1997.

 

I liked her in Coach, but I really liked her in Clambake (1967).

 

And in Girl Happy (1965).

 

And, of course, in Spinout (1966).  These last two photos are from the movie with the foreign lobby card that sparked this article.

 

Shelly Fabares is the only actress to co-star with Elvis in three movies.  He must have enjoyed working with her.  She’s never written a tell-all book about her experiences with Elvis, but I’ll bet they’d be pretty good.

So, back to the internet auction for the benefit of the Gulf Regional Advocacy Center.  Bidding starts on November 12 and ends on November 17.

 

The opening bid for the Spinout lobby card is just $35, so, if the bidding doesn’t run way up, this could be a good bargain for any Elvis collector.  The lobby card is a rare international version using a different title, and it is signed by Shelly Fabares.  Because it is the only Elvis-related item in an eclectic collection of offerings, there probably won’t an army of dedicated Elvis collectors bidding on it.

By the way, the silent auction will also include items donated by George Lopez, Martin Lawrence, Joan Baez, Melissa Gilbert, Robert Greenwald, and Salman Rushdie.  Check it out here.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Silver Elvis

 

There is a precious metals store just a few miles from my home, so I dropped in to see what they had for sale.  I quickly learned that silver comes in little 1 oz. bars and rounds produced by dozens of independent mints around the country.   And they come with every conceivable image minted on them.  Even Elvis!!

The store didn’t have any Elvis silver items, so when I got home, I Googled “Elvis silver bars” to see what would come up, and here is what I found.

 

This is a special commemorative set put out by the U.S. Postal Service in 1993 as part of their promotion of the Elvis stamp.  There are two 1 Troy oz. silver bars minted with the stamp image.  Both bars are Sterling Silver (.925 pure), and one has been gold plated.  The owner was asking $65 for the set, which seems pretty reasonable because of the collectible value.  Here is a close-up of the front and back of the silver bar.

     

Elvis Stamp Silver Bar

Perhaps because the photos were taken with the bar inside the protective plastic sleeve, the minting doesn’t look as good as others I saw at the store.  For example, there is a series of US Presidential bars that look like miniature works of art.  However, some of the other Elvis silver items available on-line had even worse images than the Postal Service bars.   Here is a terrible one.

         

Elvis Bear Silver Round

Elvis looks kind of spooky, doesn’t he?  The teddy bear on the reverse side looks a little better.  This is a Australian product called the Elvis Bear for obvious reasons, and the owner was asking $35 for it.  These are referred to as rounds, not coins, because they have no currency value.   Note that the reverse side states 1oz .999 Silver, which is the industry standard and something silver collectors always look for.

The next bar is called The Day the Music Died, which is a phrase more commonly associated with Buddy Holly.  Again, the photo was taken with the bar inside the plastic sleeve, so the minting might look better without it.

           

The Day the Music Died Elvis Silver Bar

This Elvis bar certainly gets the award for the most information minted on it.  There is his first name plus his birthday, Jan. 8, 1935, and the date of his death, Aug. 16, 1977, (Presumably The Day the Music Died), and a litany of Elvis’ achievements – 400 million records, 35 films, and 100 million fans.  With all that on the front, the mint put nothing on the reverse side but their name.  What’s missing is the notation 1 oz .999 Silver.  With an asking price of $75, people buying this one will have their fingers crossed..

The owner of this next Elvis silver round chose not to show the reverse side, so we don’t know if the weight and silver content are spelled out on it.  The text accompanying the picture says it is 1 oz .999 Silver.  The King Lives On round is listed at $28, which makes it the cheapest item I found in my search, but I wouldn’t buy it.  That Elvis image just doesn’t cut it.


 

The King Lives On Elvis Silver Round

 

I like the King of Rock and Roll bar much more.  It has a pretty good image of Elvis on the front and has the weight and silver content on the back along with the mint’s name.

                   

King of Rock ‘n Roll Elvis Silver Bar

It has a limited mintage of just 150, which must be part of the reason the owner is asking $200 for it.

The next Elvis silver round does not has a catchy phrase minted on it, so it is referred to by the image on the front side.  Here is Elvis Two Poses, a very good bargain at $29

                     

Elvis Two Poses Silver Round

It has to be one of the better two-sided Elvis rounds, with the gates of Graceland minted on the back.  Also, please note the “Silver Trade Unit” at the bottom.  Phrases like this and “Official Barter Unit” appear on a few silver rounds, a reference to the belief held by some people that America is on the road to financial collapse and that precious metals will become the de-facto currency.

 

We’ll follow one of the best items in Elvis silver with one produced by a mint whose minting is considered inferior by some silver sellers.  The Dahlonega Mint is in Georgia where there was a minor gold rush in the 1800s.  There are still a couple of tourist-trap “Gold Mines” with wooden sluices where you can pan for gold.  My wife and I tried it there once, and we found a tiny flake of gold.  They put it in a little vial of water which you can shake up and watch the gold float around.

                     

Elvis Autograph Silver Bar

This Elvis bar doesn’t look so bad to me, and it does have something on it that none of the others have.  Elvis’ autograph is minted on it, so I will call it by that name since no other was used.  The owner was asking $40 for it, which may be a little pricey..

The next does have a name:  A Great American.  I think you may find that used on silver bars and rounds with other images as well. 

                

A Great American Elvis Silver Round

I’m not real crazy about the Elvis image, but I like the mini-star flags on each side.  At $30, this might be a fairly good item to buy.

Finally, we come to my favorite Elvis silver collectible.  Elvis Lives has the best minted image of Elvis; it is 1.5 ounces of .999 silver; and only 150 were produced.

           

Elvis Lives Silver Bar

The reverse side is a complete mystery to me.  Why would they put an outdoor scene on it?  There is some wording above the rising sun and under the word mint, but zoom-in just makes them too fuzzy to read.  However, that is not why I would have to pass on Elvis Lives.  $250 is just too rich for me.

There are fewer Elvis bars and rounds available in gold than silver.  However, I’ll keep checking the on-line offerings, and as soon as I find enough for a blog article, we’ll take a look at Gold Elvis.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

DR. NICK'S MEMORIES OF ELVIS

In my mind, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, better known as Dr. Nick, is one of the main bad guys in Elvis’ history.  Yes, I know the state of Tennessee cleared Dr. Nick in 1981 of charges that he prescribed Elvis too many addictive drugs, but he lost his state medical license in 1995 for other bad conduct, so that tells you something.  Normally, I wouldn’t write anything in Elvisblog about Dr. Nick, but this story is just too weird to skip.

 

During his long association with Elvis, Dr. Nick received gifts from his favorite patient.  In 2000, realizing the value of these items, Dr. Nick entered into a 50-50 partnership with a Nevada entertainer named Bobby Freeman.  Freeman’s real name is Robert G Gallagher, and he is a self-described “little old country boy” with a third grade education.  In his act he sings original rockabilly songs wearing a cowboy hat with a bullet hole in it.  He plays numerous instruments; his specialty is playing the piano with his feet and other body parts.

 

Gallagher’s deal with Dr. Nick was to exhibit the Elvis collection in casinos.  Gallagher has stated, “We opened it at the Hollywood Casino in Tunica, [MS], 15 miles from Graceland, and it was held over three times, and I did entertainment shows opposite of it in the ballroom.”  This success gave Gallagher the idea to put the collection inside tractor-trailers and tour it nationwide.

 

It took years to build displays inside two custom-made 18-wheelers, but by 2005 they was ready.  Gallagher proudly described the truck interiors: “Everything is beautiful.  There’s carpeting everywhere – burgundy, two inches high, the best you can buy.  Every frame is carved gold.  You got your crown molding …”

 

Before the exhibit trailers were finished, Gallagher met Richard Long, a California businessman at a car show in Reno.  Later, Long saw his performance and hired Gallagher to do the show at his birthday party.  They kept in touch, and Long visited Gallagher in Reno and saw the mobile Elvis exhibits.  In April 2006, Long and Gallagher entered into an agreement to form a joint company to exhibit the memorabilia.

 

Long gave Gallagher $200,000 for himself plus $1 million to buy the Elvis collection from Dr. Nick.  Supposedly, Long agreed to put up to $1 million more into the company so Gallagher could pay the bills he ran up creating the tractor-trailer displays.  In addidtion, Long was to put an additional 1 million into the company to be used on an as-needed basis.  Sounds good so far, right?  Well, now it gets weird.

 

Long gave Gallagher the first $1.2 million, and presumably Dr. Nick was paid off.  However, Gallagher never turned over the Elvis collection to the newly formed exhibition company.  Somehow, he got the idea that the real value of the memorabilia was $250 million, and that Long was planning to sell it to Asian collectors and keep all the money.  So, Gallagher refused to turn over the displays unless Long came up with another $3.5 million.

 

In November 2006, Long filed suit.  He was willing to dissolve the company, sell the Elvis collection, and split the proceeds.  But, when the court convened on March 25, 2007, Gallagher was a no-show.  He proclaimed, “I didn’t show up because I knew they were going to pound the hell out of me.”  Indeed, Long’s attorney did just that, introducing the facts that Gallagher had a prior felony conviction for auto theft, had a prior judgment against him for $200,000, and had run up $500,000 in debt to Bank America.

 

The judge ordered Gallagher to turn over the Elvis memorabilia for inspection for insurance purposes.  Gallaher refused to do this, saying that photographing the items would devalue the collection.  Long’s attorney said, “The legal term for their argument is ‘a load of hooey.’” Gallagher again failed to show up in court this past May 12, and the judge ruled that Gallagher must turn over the exhibit to the exhibition company and pay part of Long’s legal fees.

 

So what is in Dr. Nick’s Memories of Elvis?  Here’s the list:

 

The black doctor’s bag used by Dr. Nick while treating Elvis.

 

A stuffed dog Elvis had in his suite at the Las Vegas Hilton.

 

Laryngeal scope Dr. Nick used to examine Elvis’ throat and

tonsils.

 

Wooden carved desk, made by Elvis’ uncle, Vester Presley, and supposedly used by Elvis in Graceland.

 

Puka shell and turquoise necklace Elvis gave to Dr. Nick.

 

38 Smith & Wesson snub nose once owned by Elvis.

 

The book, “The Prophet,” with hand written notations by Elvis

in the margins.

 

A bowl, taken to the Memphian Theater filled with fresh cut

fruit, for Elvis to eat during movies.

 

An empty prescription vial dated August 15, 1977.

 

A 14k yellow gold and diamond TCB pendant and necklace that Elvis gave Dr. Nick.

 

A glass nasal douche Dr. Nick used to irrigate Elvis’

sinuses.

 

Gallagher has called this collection “the greatest find since the Titanic.”  With the exception of the book and TCB pendant, I think I like the lawyer’s term: “A load of hooey.”

 

©  2007   All Rights Reserved   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

ANOTHER BIG ELVIS COLLECTOR IN THE NEWS

Who ever thought we would have three superstar Elvis collectors in the news over such a short time span?  First, it was Chris Davidson and Jimmy Velvet when the Elvis-A-Rama Museum was sold to EPE back in October.  Then, two weeks ago, we had the “Elvis Empire Auction” that sold the entire collection of Jim Curtin of Philadelphia for approximately $2 million.  Like Davidson and Velvet, Jim Curtin has an interesting story.

 

Here’s a little history on him, according to an article by Jenny Paschall in the London Daily Express earlier this month.  Curtin bought his first Elvis record (“Return To Sender”) at age 12, and this set off a buying spree that eventually included every Elvis record ever released in the US, plus as many different foreign versions as he could find.  When he first saw Elvis perform on stage in 1971, his reaction was, “He was like a god… The chemistry was so powerful, it overwhelmed me.”  Apparently so much that Jim Curtin evolved from being a fan to a follower, and finally, to a friend of Elvis.

 

Curtin saw Elvis perform 51 times and shook hands with him 32 times.  His love of Elvis turned into a career.  As an expert on Elvis, he has written several books and countless articles about the King.  He acquired 25,000 pictures of Elvis for his collection and used them to publish calendars. In 1974, Curtin designed and commissioned a $2000 Gibson guitar with “Elvis Presley” inscribed on the fretboard.  During a 2-1/2 hour visit with Elvis, he presented the guitar to Elvis as a gift.

 

We all know a generous person like Elvis would not let a gesture like that go unanswered. Elvis reciprocated by giving Curtin the stunning white “Nail Mirror Jumpsuit” (sold at the auction for $125,000).  According to the London Daily Express article, when Curtin tried on the suit, “It was something spiritual… I wanted to look like him, sing like him, be like him.”  Indeed, he did start giving Elvis concerts as tributes to a great man, he says, not as an impersonator.  Well, if you do your hair and sideburns like Elvis, wear his clothes, and sing his songs, it sounds like impersonating to me.

 

Some news reports said Curtin was selling his Elvis collection in an attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend, Renata Ginter.  Supposedly, she gave him an ultimatum – Elvis or me.  However, she responded to this news by sending a letter to www.Elvisnews.com, in which she stated their relationship ended three years ago, and it was for personal reasons that had nothing to do with his Elvis collection.  Even more important, she stated she is now engaged to another man.

 

So Jim Curtin may never get the love of his life back.  He says he can’t sleep, the loneliness is killing him, and he has lost 30 pounds.  You have to feel sorry for him, but let’s hope he will find some happiness with that $2 million he just got.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

JIMMY VELVET: ELVIS FAN, FRIEND, AND COLLECTOR

At one time, it was said Jimmy Velvet had the largest Elvis memorabilia collection in the world.  He’s had plenty of highs and lows in his life, and his twenty-year friendship with Elvis has been the catalyst for some of both. 

 

Jimmy Velvet was a fifteen-year old high school student in Jacksonville, Florida when he met Elvis in 1955.  His substitute English teacher was Mae Axton (who went on to write “Heartbreak Hotel”), and she was also a show promoter.  One of the shows she booked was the Hank Snow Country Jamboree, and at the bottom of the bill was a little known singer named Elvis Presley.  Velvet was a rising local entertainer, so Axton brought the young man back stage to meet Elvis.

 

Jimmy Velvet and Elvis became friends.  Over the years, Velvet made numerous visits to Graceland, movie locations, and even recording sessions in Nashville.  He had a moderately successful singing career with regional hits like “We Belong Together” and “It’s Almost Tomorrow.”  He also became a diligent collector of Elvis memorabilia, one highlight being a 1965 Mercedes 600 limo that Elvis gave him.

 

After Elvis’ death in 1977, Vernon Presley gave Velvet the OK to create The Elvis Museum across the street from Graceland.  Later, he opened another museum in Kissimmee, Florida, near Walt Disney World.  For years, Velvet toured the country and a lot of the world with his traveling Legends Hall of Fame.

 

The most memorable purchase for his museums was the 85-foot long Elvis-A-Rama mural.  It had been created in 1979 by songwriter Mitchell Torok (remember his 1959 hit “Caribbean”?), and it was on display in Nashville, TN and Branson, MO for 18 years.  The name had been trademarked well before EPE embarked on its famous quest to combat the use of their Elvis and Elvis Presley trademarks in anyone else’s profit making ventures.

 

Jimmy Velvet had other business interests, and one of them went sour in the mid- 90’s.  He was forced to put up much of his Elvis memorabilia at auction.  Chris Davidson bought his first Elvis goodies at a Velvet auction in 1994, and in 1998 he purchased the Elvis-A-Rama mural and its trademarked name from Velvet.

 

One year later, Davidson opened his Las Vegas Elvis museum, using the trademark Elvis-A-Rama as its name.  If EPE didn’t like that, there wasn’t much they could do about it.  As it turned out, there was one thing.  They bought the Elvis-A-Rama Museum two months ago and announced it would close next year.

 

Jimmy Velvet still owns a small portion of his Elvis collection.  I won’t be surprised if we hear from him again.

© 2005   Philip R Arnold