Bidding on the first significant assortment of Elvis memorabilia this year closed on March 30. The Heritage Auctions “Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction” held in Dallas contained forty varied items for Elvis collectors. Here are some I liked.
Personal Rotary Phone in Wooden Box:
This rotary phone attracted eleven bidders, the most of any Elvis item in the auction, and they bid the price up to $16,250, nearly eight times the pre-bid estimate. Elvis used the phone in his Beverly Hills home in the early 1970s. Apparently, there were lots of Memphis Mafia buddies around, because he printed a warning inside the cover for them not to use the phone.
Elvis had his Kenpo Karate decal put on top of the wooden box. He also had it put on one of his guitars.
This item did not come with any photos of Elvis using the phone, but it did come with a letter of authenticity from Charlie Hodge.
Elvis Presley Signed High School Yearbook The Herald 1953:
Copies of the 1953 The Herald yearbook from Elvis’ senior year at Humes High School show up at auction fairly regularly. The last copy to surface was sold in August 2010 at the Ultimate Elvis Auction held in Memphis by Heritage Auction Galleries. The top bid was $7,170.
Heritage offered another Elvis yearbook this year, and they hyped it up because the original owner was by all accounts the most popular girl in Elvis’ class, Gloria Carmeen. The auction website description stated she was Miss Humes, Captain of the Cheerleaders, and a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, and several other organizations. Elvis wrote “best of luck to a very pretty girl – remember me.”
Unfortunately, this copy of The Herald shows some wear at the top and bottom of the spine, and at the tips of the covers’ corners, and the pages are partially loose from the cover. Quality counts for Elvis collectors and this yearbook sold for $4,375, well below the pre-auction estimate.
Tan Suede Coat:
Based on the amount of wear it had, this coat was probably one of Elvis’ favorites. In addition to some worn areas and minor stains, is missing its label, and the inner lining is torn in one small area. On top of that, there is no photo of Elvis wearing it, so it’s no surprise it brought only $2,500, about half of the pre-auction estimate. Elvis gave this well-worn suede coat to Sunny West, who supplied a LOA.
Elvis Presley Complete Sun Singles Set:
It’s fairly easy to find a copy of an Elvis record on the Sun label, but a complete set of all five is a rare find. Especially if they all grade out from VG-EX 6 (very good- excellent) to NM 8 (near mint). Collectors of Elvis records bid this top quality set up to $4,687, including the auction’s buyer’s fee. As the auction website proclaimed, “This is the stuff of legend.”
Gold and Diamond Ring:
We’ve watched the prices for Elvis’ rings drop since the economic shutdown started in 2008, but it appears that things are coming back pretty good. This 14k gold ring with a seven-diamond cluster sold for $15,000. The price was certainly boosted by the inclusion of a photo of Elvis wearing it on stage.
The auction website said Elvis wore the ring before giving it to his cousin Patsy Presley in 1974. At some point, it seems she would rather have the cash, because she prepared the LOA that accompanied the ring at this auction.
Star Ruby and Diamond Ring:
Here’s the second Elvis ring in the auction. This one is understated, but the10K yellow gold band is crowned by a star ruby, accented on either side by small diamonds. The ring went for $9,062. In December, 1976, while a guest of Sam Thompson (the brother of Elvis’ girlfriend Linda) Elvis took the ring from his own middle finger and gave it to Sam as a bonus following a ten-day engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton. According to Thompson, Elvis claimed to have gotten the ring when he visited a spiritual center in Los Angeles which had been founded by Hindu holy man Paramahansa Yogananda. Sam Thompson provided a Letter of Authenticity.
If you ever wondered where Elvis got the inspiration for his huge, ornate jumpsuit belts, maybe this is it. The 32″ waist identifies this black leather motorcycle belt as probably from the early to mid-1960s. The triple-buckle side is 5.5 inches high, and the decorated part is over seven inches high. If you thought the decorated side would be the front, the low-res photograph of Elvis wearing the belt shows the buckles in front.
Elvis gave the belt to his longtime hairdresser Homer Gilleland, who supplied a LOA for the auction. Bidding topped at $4,375.
The three-part ElvisBlog series on Elvis’ Circle G Ranch showed him wearing several western jackets, but not this one. And, although this suede jacket wasn’t pictured in those articles, it was worn by Elvis during the colder months after he first bought the ranch. Believe it or not, it actually came from Sears. This might seem strange for someone who purchased custom made clothes from big-name stores in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Hollywood. However, when Elvis bought the ranch, he set out on shopping sprees to a nearby Sears store to buy ranch equipment. While there, this jacket must have caught his eye.
This photo shows Elvis wearing the jacket while doing something strange – maybe playing with a Roman candle. He later gave the jacket to close friend Charlie Hodge, who provided a Letter of Authenticity. The jacket went for $13,125, nearly five times the pre-auction estimate.
Long Sleeved Sport Shirt:
Here’s quite a distinctive but strange shirt. It bears a Nik-Nik label, and is a size Large. As was the case with much clothing in the wild ’60s-’70s era, the shirt had an unusual color scheme, gray toward the top and cream below, a vivid rainbow stripe, and the image of a striking woman on the upper right side. This is the second item of clothing Elvis gave to Sonny West that showed up in this auction. In his LOA, West stated that the woman’s face bore a striking resemblance to Judy Garland. Unfortunately, the auction photo has the collar covering most of the face. Although the shirt is in very fine shape, it topped out at $1,625, about two-thirds of the pre-auction estimate.
Patent Leather Boots:
Not only did Elvis give away his shirts, coats and rings to Memphis mafia buddies, he apparently gave away his footwear to them, as well. Charlie Hodge was the recipient of these black patent leather boots with soft leather inside. Neither man must have worn them much, because the quality was listed as Fine to Very Fine.
A photo of Elvis wearing the boots and a Letter of Authenticity from Hodge attracted spirited bidding, and the bid went to $10,000 compared to an estimate of $1,000 – up.
Army Fatigue Shirt:
Back in July 2011, an Elvis Army fatigue shirt sold for $5,069 at a Gotta-Have-It auction, so I can’t figure out why this one went for $27,500, more than double the pre-auction estimate. Admittedly, it is in better shape and has the Sergeant stripes and “Presley” name patch sewn in (the other had only the company patch and Elvis’ name stamped inside below the collar. To the successful bidder here (out of just three) that must have made it worth an additional $21,000. As with the diamond-cluster ring, Elvis gave the shirt to cousin Patsy Presley, and her LOA accompanied it at the auction.
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