Tag Archives: Graceland Auctions

Deeper Look at a Recent Elvis Auction Item

I started out to do my usual Elvis auction review on the November 3 Heritage Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction. However, I got stuck on the very first Elvis item – a handbill for his’ March 25, 1961, Pearl Harbor concert.

Pearl Harbor Concert Handbill - Front

 

[Just real quick for you newer Elvis fans that might know about the concert, it was to raise money toward the proposed memorial for the USS Arizona that was sunk by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 1102 American seamen perished that day.]

 

I’ve looked at this handbill picture several times before, and one time I wished I knew how to Photoshop, so I could do an upgrade on it. Elvis did not wear those baggy gold pants at the Pearl Harbor concert. Just the gold coat.

Elvis at Pearl Harbor Concert

I wanted to take the handbill picture and Photoshop some black pants on Elvis – get him to look like he did when he performed. Then, I realized that the black pants wouldn’t show against the handbill’s black background. So, I gave up on the idea.

 

There were other things about this playbill I found interesting. It was obvious that Bill Black was no longer part of the Elvis band. DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore are listed in the marquee sign along with the Jordanaires.

All Star Cast on Pearl Harbor Concert Handbill -

 

By March 1961, Bill Black was into the third year of his career with Bill Black’s Combo. They were touring around the country playing hits like “Smokie – Part 2” and “White Silver Sands.”

Bill Black Combo 1962
Note that Bill Black has traded his stand-up bass for an electric one.

 

The man who replaced Bill Black in Elvis’ band for the Pearl Harbor show was Nashville session musician Bob Moore. The rest of the All-Star Cast referred to above was Floyd Cramer on piano, Hank Garland on rhythm guitar, and Boots Randolph on sax. All Stars indeed.

 

The back of the playbill featured three photos and lots of text.

Pearl Harbor Concert Handbill - Back

 

Here’s a better look at the three pictures.

USS Arizona War Memorial Rendering

This is the architect’s rendering of what the planned USS Arizona Memorial would look like.

 

USS Arizona Memorial Construction Sign

And here we have a picture of the sign on the site where the memorial would be built.

 

Col. Parker and Bigwigs Before Pearl Harbor concert

Col. Parker with the chairman of the memorial commission and the head Navy guy.

 

Another thing that struck me was the very brief narrative Heritage Auction’s website gave to this handbill, a significant collectible.

Elvis Presley Bloch Arena, Pearl Harbor Concert Handbill (The Pacific War Memorial Commission Proudly Presents, 1961). Very Rare. Double-sided, for a benefit show in Hawaii on Saturday March 25th. One side is printed in gold and black, showing a full-length image of Elvis wearing a gold suit, listing the support act as Minnie Pearl. Measures 9.25″ x 12.25″. In Very Good condition.

When I first read it, my thought was, “I wonder what Jeff Marren and Laura at Graceland Auctions would have to say, because they do such a great job on the narratives.” I inquired them, and found out they did have two tickets for the Pearl Harbor concert at auction last year. This is what they said then.

“Perhaps what endears Elvis Presley to his fans so much is the fact that it seemed like there was no end to his willingness to give. In December 1960 an editorial ran in an L.A. paper about the stalled efforts to complete the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. This article was spotted by the Colonel, and Elvis answered the call to duty.

“A benefit concert was organized to raise $50,000 towards the completion of the memorial. On January 11, 1961, a press conference was held and it was announced that Elvis would perform this benefit concert on the condition that every penny from the concert must go to the fund.

“Having honorably served his country in the Armed Forces, Elvis held this memorial and the soldiers that perished near to his heart.

“Ticket prices ranged from $3 to $10 for reserved section seats, and $100 for the 100 reserved “ringside” seats—and Elvis was the first to buy a ticket.

“The concert was set for March 25, 1961, and 4,000 screaming fans, 15 songs and $54,000 later, Elvis left the building. As a result of the concert and the huge amount of media attention it garnered, public and private donations flooded in from all over the country. On May 30, 1962 (Memorial Day) the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial was dedicated.”

Perhaps it doesn’t matter, but I’d like to think wonderful background text like this might bring some higher bidding.  In fairness, the concert playbill went for $1,125 as presented, which is pretty impressive.

And I love this line about Elvis, “it seemed like there was no end to his willingness to give.” Elvis’ generosity is well documented, but this is the best description of it I have ever read.

 

$100 Ticket for Elvis Presley Pearl Harbor Concert

Here’s one of those $100 tickets. That’s almost $900 in today’s money. Note there were no assigned seats. It must have been like a special private party area where you just socialized until it was time to find a seat and settle down for the show.

 

There are three interesting things in the text on the back of the handbill.

Under the heading Symbol of Freedom, it said, “The benefit performance by Presley… is symbolic of a new generation of Americans who have not forgotten the price of freedom or how dearly it has been maintained.” That sounds like Elvis to me.

Congress had authorized construction of the memorial three years earlier, but fund raising had slowed down to a crawl. Prior to the concert, only $300,000 of the needed $500,000 had been raised. One of the commissioners worried that “today the Arizona is but a rusting tomb.” The Colonel and Elvis jumped in to turn that situation around.

Two days after the concert, Elvis started the filming for Blue Hawaii.

 

The USS Arizona's anchor

My wife went to Hawaii twenty years ago with girlfriends, and of course, they went to the USS Arizona Memorial.

 

USS Arizona War Memorial Finished

So she’s seen it, and I haven’t

 

People Entering the USS Arizona War Memorial.

My wife said it was a moving experience. I’m happy for her, but I’m a little jealous.

 

Photos and text used by permission, copyright 2018 GracelandAuctions.com

 

© 2018 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.

 

Speculating on Elvis’ Rings Can Be Risky

 

Elvis Presley Unsold Blach Sapphire Ring at Julien's

The collector who purchased this ring for $7,500 in August 2017 thought he could sell it for a sizeable profit just eight months later in May 2018. He was wrong.

We’ll take a look at several Elvis rings in this post — ones that exemplify the risks of short-term speculating on them. First, here is the description of the above ring on the website for the August 12, 2017, Graceland Auction.

 

Diamond and Black Star Sapphire Ring:

The shimmering rays of the star effect in the star sapphire is called asterism, from the Latin word astrum, or “star.” Black star sapphires owe their stars to the included crystals of the shiny, dark mineral hematite. The unusual design of this 14-karat yellow gold, diamond and black star sapphire ring has a “Star Trek” flair.

Star sapphires were a favorite of Elvis’ and he was as known for wearing them as often as he gifted them to friends and family. This ring has an oval black star sapphire being held by two rays of diamonds atop a textured gold high-set band. The interior of the band is marked “14k”. The black sapphire measures 7.5 by 5.9 mm; the ring weighs 8 grams and contains 6 small diamonds.

This ring, size 6 1/4, emanates from Charlie Hodge and was purchased by the consignor in the early 1980s along with 11 additional rings. Elvis gave Charlie all 12 rings simultaneously in the same box in which Elvis had kept them. There are several photos of Elvis from the filming of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is that show him wearing a small ring on his pinky finger that strongly resembles the offered ring.

Elvis Presley - Close-up of Black Sapphire Ring

 

The ring had a minimum bid of $5,000, and the winning bid was $6,000. However, the winning bidder actually had to pay $7,500 because the standard 25% buyer’s premium was added.

Graceland Auction's Final Prices Include Buyers Premium

 

The last thing on the Graceland Auction website was this:

The ring, gifted by Elvis to Charlie Hodge, is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

 

So, if I had owned this ring and needed to sell it, I too would have placed it on Graceland Auctions. They always do such a nice job with their detailed and interesting descriptions, plus a nice assortment of high-quality photos.

Elvis Presley's Black Sapphire Ring Pictures

 

And I would also have made the investment required to get the Letter of Authenticity (with pictures) from Graceland Authenticated. While that would have cost me 10% of the fair market value of the ring, I believe that will be more than covered by the increase in value it produces.

Graceland Authenticated Letter of Authenticity

 

To summarize, I’ve been following auctions of Elvis items for years, and I truly believe the Graceland Auctions gets the best results for people wanting to sell their Elvis memorabilia.

I also believe that folks who buy top-tier items through the Graceland Auctions have acquired something that will appreciate over the years. Here is a quote from Glenn Johnson who owns about 1,000 Elvis items at an estimated value of $4.5 million.

“A lot of people say the value of Elvis items will go down once his older fans are gone. I look at other historical figures and cultural icons from 100+ years ago. Their original fans are gone obviously, but yet their collectibles are fetching outrageous prices (ie Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, any early presidents). I say Elvis is here to stay.”

Glenn is certainly not the only Elvis collector who expects their collection to become more valuable as time goes by. However, would they think of trying to “flip” a new purchase in just eight months? I doubt it.

However, somebody did just that, as we saw above.

 

Julien's Auctions

Same ring. But, just the one photo that’s shown at the top of this post. Just a five-line item description.

That’s not going to juice up bidders much. And I’m not sure what kind of bidder base is attracted to an auction with more Britney Spears and Kiss stuff than Elvis.

But the best predictor of a bust when trying to flip an Elvis ring is simply the math of the whole thing. Bear with me please. Say the guy that bought the black star sapphire ring at Graceland for $7,500 wanted to make $1,000 profit. The hammer price (when the auctioneer slams the gavel down and says “Sold.”) would have to be $8,500 or more. Let’s go with that.

When that winning bidder pays up, he would have to cover that 25% buyer’s premium, bringing it up to $10, 625. But, wait, there’s more. Julien’s has another charge – 3% for on-line bids. That brings it up to $10,880. Nearly $11,000 for a ring that sold for $7,500 just eight months earlier. No, thanks.

 

Here are three more Elvis rings that sold on Graceland Auctions and did manage to sell on Julien’s – but at a loss.

 

Tiger’s Eye Ring:

Elvis Presley - Gold and Tiger’s Eye Ring

(From the Graceland Auction website):  Elvis loved jewelry and often his spirituality affected the gems he chose. Tiger’s eye was one stone that Elvis favored, perhaps because it is believed to bring harmony, balance and protection as well as enhance good luck. This simple and classic 10-karat yellow gold men’s ring, weighing 9 grams, has a single central oval-shaped tiger’s eye stone measuring 17 by 12 mm. The ring, size 10, was gifted by Elvis to Pat West, wife of Red and secretary to Elvis. The ring comes with a letter from Jimmy Velvet and Bobby (Red) West on Elvis Presley Museum certificate stock and states in part, “This large cat’s eye ring was worn by Elvis Presley. It was given to Pat West by Elvis while Pat was his secretary.” As further provenance, additional documents include a copy of a letter, dated December 15, 1983 on Elvis Presley Museum letterhead. This charming ring with impeccable provenance documentation is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

Elvis Presley's Tiger's Eye Ring - Upright

The ring sold at Graceland Auction for $10,000 including the 25% buyer’s fee. It sold at Julien’s for a hammer price of $8,000. This attempt to flip an Elvis ring resulted in a $2,000 loss.

 

Diamond and Garnet “Swami” Ring;

(From Graceland Auction website): This noble ring, in the form of a maharaja with diamond eyes and a large garnet centered on the front of his turban, is fit for a King—so what better person to own such a bauble than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, especially since the term “maharaja” means great ruler or king. The ring is marked 14k yellow gold and has stylized shoulders that accentuate the bearded and bejeweled turbaned head. The diamond eyes each weight 0.01 carat and measure 1.2 mm and the ring measures size 9 1/4. The ring, with a total weight of 27.3 grams, is offered with a detailed letter from the consignor that states in part:

“One of the items I picked up from Tom Hulett at this time was Elvis’ Turban Ring or Swami Ring. He told me at one point after wearing it amongst some other rings, Elvis took it off his hand and told Tom to try it on. Tom mentioned something about it being a kind of unusual ring while he put it on one of his fingers, and Elvis told him to just keep it. Much later on I found out that this might be one of the rings Elvis is wearing in the photos where he is wearing a turban, the long red coat with black accents, and the Ram Head necklace.”

The ring is also accompanied by a letter from Graceland Authenticated.

Elvis Presley's Swami Ring - Profile

The ring sold at Graceland Auction for $12,500 including the 25% buyer’s fee. It sold at Julien’s for a hammer price of $10,000. This attempt to flip an Elvis ring resulted in a $2,500 loss.

.

Gold and Gray Star Sapphire Ring:

Elvis Presley - Gold and Gray Star Sapphire Ring

(From Graceland Auction website):  Elvis was fond of jewelry featuring the star sapphire, which emanates rays from the center as light is shone on the stone. Elvis would often wear star sapphire rings and would as frequently gift them to family and friends. Perhaps his fascination stemmed from the special significance of sapphires in numerology, of which Elvis was an enthusiast. The offered gray star sapphire is set in a 14-karat gold “birds nest” setting, adding to its allure. The men’s ring, measuring size 10 1/2, is marked 14k and comes with a letter from Sam Thompson which states in part,

“During this time, in December of 1976, and while talking with Elvis upstairs at Graceland, Elvis called me into his dressing area of his bedroom and asked what size ring I wore. I told him I didn’t know and he told me to hold out my hand and he handed me a ring he removed from his own hand for me to try on. It fit on my pinky finger and he smiled and said it was his gift to me. The ring is nugget style, 14K yellow gold, with a gray star sapphire, and about a size 10 1/2. It has been in my possession since that day in 1976.”

This stunning gift from Elvis to Sam is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

Elvis Presley's Gray Sapphire Ring Profile

The ring sold at Graceland Auction for $8,750 including the 25% buyer’s fee. It sold at Julien’s for a hammer price of $8,000. This attempt to flip an Elvis ring resulted in a $750 loss.

 

So, we have a total loss on the three Elvis rings of $5,250!!   Ouch.

 

Julien’s Auction in May 2018 did have a few spectacular results, including this ring.

Fifty-Diamond Star Ring:

Elvis' $100,000 Diamond Star Ring

A hundred grand for an Elvis ring!! In spite of the fact that the picture used obviously is not the best one to show off this stunning ring. The item detail does a better job.

“A diamond star-shaped ring given by Elvis Presley to a concert-goer Donna Lewis on July 24, 1975, during a performance at the Civic Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

“The ring is designed in 14K white gold, topped with 50 full-cut round diamonds totaling approximately 6.00 cts. and graded H-I color and VS-SI clarity, size 7 1/2. 25.4 grams.

“Accompanying the ring is a photograph of Lewis and Presley at the moment he gave her the ring; an image of Presley wearing the ring; an affidavit from Lewis; and two images of Presley with a thank-you card given to him at a concert on March 18, 1976, in Johnson City, Tennessee.”

 

I wonder what kind of price this fabulous ring would have brought at a Graceland Auctions with lots of great pictures, extensive description, and an all-Elvis bidder base.

 

Photos and text used by permission, copyright 2018 GracelandAuctions.com

 

 

 

© 2018 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.