Since 2010, ElvisBlog has posted features on twenty-one different auctions containing significant offerings of Elvis memorabilia. Typically, we look at the items that bring in the most money, but this time we will look at some items that nobody chose to bid on. Like the Sun Records 45 pictured above, offered at the recent Heritage Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction in New York.
Mis-Pressed 45 Sun Single “Milkcow Blues Boogie” (Sun 215, 1955)
I never thought this record would have any trouble getting the minimum starting bid of $1,200. Of the five Elvis Sun releases, “Milkcow Blues Boogie” is the rarest and most valuable. In Near-Mint condition, a copy of this record should bring between $1,200-1,800, according the collectors price guides. However, this copy is graded VG5, several notches down the scale.
On the other hand, it has two features that make it extremely rare oddity and therefore worth more. First, the labels are mismatched. The “Milkcow Blues Boogie” side actually plays “You’re a Heartbreaker,” and vice versa. The other anomaly is that the big 45-size hole did not completely punch out. You can see the mark where the punch started but didn’t go through. According to the auction website, they contacted Elvis experts, but none had ever seen a similar specimen before.
If I owned this rare Elvis record, I’d keep offering it for sale on EBay or at auction. Someday, a well-healed collector of Elvis records will want this for his collection and will pay the $1,200.
Blue-Wash Denim Suit:
There were three Elvis suits offered at this auction, and two of them didn’t sell. He wore this leisure suit in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the condition is very good. It features a large pointed collar and wide bell-bottoms. However, it failed to attract the minimum opening bid of $4,000.
This supports the theory advanced here before that you won’t get top dollar selling Elvis clothing unless you provide a photo of him wearing it. I’m sure the owner thought the Letter of Authenticity from Ed Parker, Elvis’ friend and Karate instructor, would be enough to justify the price. Plus the inside suit pocket has a Tony Alamo label that says, “Custom Tailored for Elvis Presley.”
But without a picture of Elvis wearing this suit, bidders shied away. My suggestion is that everyone wishing to sell an item like this should join TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS: The Elvis Forum. Then post a photo of the item and ask if anyone has ever seen a picture of Elvis wearing it. Some of the guys in this forum are like detectives and have incredible resources to find stuff. They seem to love the challenge and will probably come through, but if not, one more Elvis fan will be introduced to this incredibly interesting site.
Indian Head Ring:
There were also three Elvis rings included in this latest auction, but the one above did not sell. I’m not surprised. The reason – Elvis never wore it. For the other two rings, the titles of the item descriptions say “Elvis Owned and Worn“, but this ring was just “Elvis Owned” The description notes that the ring was given to Elvis by Felton Jarvis, who produced most of Elvis’ records from the mid-1960s until his death in 1977. But perhaps Elvis thought the ring with an American Indian design featuring polychrome enamel was ugly. I do. Anyway, it must not have meant much to Elvis, who then gave the ring to Sheila Ryan, a girl he dated for a while (who later married actor James Caan).
It didn’t mean much to Elvis memorabilia collectors either, and they passed on the minimum opening bid of $3,000.
Rare “Old Shep” Promo Mailing Envelope (1956):
This item really caught my eye when the auction items were first shown. This is not a picture sleeve for the 45 single titled “Old Shep.” It is a mailing envelope. In 1956, RCA produced a one-sided promo-record and sent copies out to radio stations on December 21, 1956. So far, this is the only mailing envelope known to survive. However, that did not make it worth the minimum bid of $2,000.
According to the record collectors’ price guides, the “Old Shep” 45 inside is worth $700 to $800, so maybe $2,000 is a bit rich for the mailing envelope alone. So, the seller should offer this again at a more reasonable price – or get a copy of the record and see what the whole package would bring.
Elvis Fans know “Old Shep” was significant as the first song Elvis performed in public as a 10-year old in 1945. It was never commercially released as a single. However, it was part of the four-song EP Elvis, Volume 2, and it received enough airplay to reach #47 on the Billboard charts.
Custom-Made Metal Scrapbook (1969):
Several Colonel Parker items have appeared in the lots of Elvis auction items, but they never seem to do very well. When I saw the minimum bid price of $2,500 on this scrapbook commissioned by Col. Parker, I said “no way,” and I was right.
Here’s what the auction description had to say about it. “This large (12″ x 22″) scrapbook was one of only four that Colonel Tom Parker commissioned as an in-house display to promote and commemorate Elvis’ triumphant return to live performances on the heels of his legendary NBC-televised “Comeback Special” of 1968. It features a custom-made metal cover with Elvis’ image and logo, with 17-pages chockfull of press clippings from an exciting, pivotal era in The King’s career. In 1969 Presley began a series of sold-out concerts at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.”
The seller would be lucky to get $500 if he puts this collection of newspaper clippings back on sale someday.
This long-sleeved shirt with a Sy Devore label had a modest minimum bid price of just $1,000, but it still did not sell. The item description says “Elvis Owned,” not “Elvis Owned and Worn.” Elvis probably did wear the shirt, but there is no photo showing him wearing it to support this.
Also, there is a LOA from David Turner, a man who bought the shirt from the Salvation Army after Vernon donated a number of Elvis’ wardrobe items. Turner never saw Elvis wear the shirt, so of course he couldn’t verify that Elvis ever wore it.
UK version of the EP Loving You:
In addition to a twelve-song album titled Loving You, Elvis had two 45 RPM EPs (Volumes 1 and 2) with the same title and cover picture. The EPs each had four songs. But RCA did something unusual with the UK version of the EP. They put all eight songs on a 10’ disc that played at 33-1/3. Who knows why they didn’t just put all twelve songs on a 12” record and issue it as the standard album?
So, we have a rarity that seemed like it would bring the $400 minimum bid, but it didn’t. Possibly the reason is that it graded VG-6, a couple of notches down from the preferred Near Mint grade.
Suit Worn at Frontier Hotel Shows:
The results on this suit really surprised me. It seemed like it had so much going for it that bidding would blow past the minimum bid of $10,000 and go for much more. First, the suit is historically significant – Elvis wore it during his 1956 performances at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.
Second, there are numerous photos of Elvis wearing the suit, including one of the cards in the 1956 Topps Elvis series.
And finally, the suit bears the famous Lansky Bros. label plus a special one:
I can’t figure out why no Elvis collector bid $10,000 for this suit. Even excluding jumpsuits, there have been many Elvis clothing items going for more than this (including a coat at this auction that sold for $30,000). If the seller brings this suit back at auction again, I think he will get his price.
Fantasia Fiberoptic Lamp:
This is just stupid. Elvis gave this spikey lamp to Al Strada, one of his security guys in the 70s. It is unlikely that Elvis even paid for it, because a plaque at the bottom states, “Las Vegas Hilton Elvis Presley August 1975”. When I saw the minimum opening bid of $1,000, I laughed. Try $100 next time and maybe it’ll sell.
We will take a look at the big winners at the Heritage Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction next week.
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