Within the next month, three companies will hold auctions containing Elvis items. Heritage Auctioneers has their latest “Music and Entertainment” auction starting October 25. Julien’s has their “LEGENDS Pop Culture Artifacts” auction starting on October 8, and Guernsey’s has their “Iconic Objects and Documents” going on right now.
I plan to follow all three, and there will be some interesting Elvis memorabilia to report on here. However, before doing that, it would be a good idea to finish up on the wonderful “Ultimate Elvis Auction” presented by Heritage at Elvis Week this year. Let’s start with a strange-looking item.
What Is This – And Why Would It Be Worth $500?:
This strange looking item is a mailing box addressed to bandleader, theatrical agent, and Elvis Presley staff member Al Dvorin in Chicago. Dvorin is the man credited with coining the phrase “Elvis has left the building.”
On August 16, 1977, Dvorin was in a hotel in Portland, Maine, with the Colonel's advance group, preparing for the start of Elvis' upcoming tour — one that would never take place. Elvis died in Memphis that day.
Dvorin had brought with him a case of Elvis photo medallions on chains that were to be sold during the tour. With the news of Elvis’ untimely death, the necklaces were sent back to the warehouse in Chicago, where they remained for more than 20 years.
There were twelve of these photo medallions in the box. They measured 2.25 inches across and came with a chain of so-called silver metal. I can’t imagine why the auctioneers didn’t just try to sell the medallions without the shipping box. However, I can imagine why nobody anted up the $500 minimum bid.
Elvis Slot Machine from Japan:
This 1980s era slot machine is 32 inches high and still works. It even came with 132 steel game tokens. It is rather modest compared to today’s Elvis slot machines…
…but it still went for almost $3000 (and you have to pay freight from Japan).
Loving You Slacks:
Back Up Pants Actual Pants Worn In Movie
Sometimes bidders don’t read the fine print on the auction website. It clearly says, “This pair of maroon Western-style slacks with white piping was a back-up pair made by legendary tailor Nudie Cohn for Elvis during production of his second feature film Loving You.
Because they were not the real pants Elvis wore in the filming of the movie, the pre-auction estimate was only $4,000. This was reasonable because Nudie was the man who designed Elvis’ famous gold lamé suit. Nudie’s personal label with Elvis Presley's name and a Paramount studio stamp are on the outside lining of one of the back pockets. The pants certainly have collectible value, but some fool must have thought they were the real ones from the movie and paid $20,315. Uh-oh.
You Gave Me A Molehill:
“You Gave Me A Molehill” Promo Record
This was part of a set of radio show albums, so there is no way to know what the pre-auction estimate was for it individually or what the bidders thought it was worth. However, there is an interesting story behind this strange record title.
On March 27, 1972, Elvis and the TCB Band assembled in RCA’s Studio C in Hollywood. It was the first studio recording session using Elvis’ touring band, and it was very productive. Both “Separate Ways” and “Burning Love” went on to be hits for Elvis.
After the serious recording was finished, a film crew moved in on March 30 and 31. The plan was for Elvis and the band to create “mock recording session” footage to be edited into the upcoming Elvis on Tour motion picture. In fact, Elvis and the guys actually rehearsed the songs they would perform on the fifteen-day concert tour.
One of the songs was “You Gave Me A Mountain,” written by Marty Robbins. When the instrumental introduction during one take was rather weak, Elvis joked, “It sounds like a molehill to me.”
For some reason, the tape rolled on, and Elvis failed to take the lyrics seriously for the rest of the song. He changed one line to “…blamed for the loss of his eye…er, uh…of his wife…” When the line repeated, Elvis ad-libbed “you dirty bastard.”
Elvis’ Personal Address/Phone Book:
This book measures 7″ x 9″ and Elvis maintained it in the 50s and early 60s. The pre-auction estimate was $3,500. In addition to addresses and phone numbers of his friends and big Hollywood stars (the open page includes Tommy Sands, Red Skelton, Hank Snow, and Ed Sullivan), it contains business cards, studio directories, and lots of hand-written personal notes. Wouldn’t you love to read all those notes Elvis wrote? You could have if you had shelled out $10,217.
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