I have run out of ideas for different titles on these posts featuring Elvis collectibles, so I’m just going to number them from now on. Here are the titles for the memorabilia articles posted so far in 2017.
So, the 37th post in this series will feature items for the recent Elvis Week 2017 Auction at Graceland. The number of lots for bid increased to 309, so the items I find interesting will fill several posts.
1954 Elvis Presley Ceiling Hanger Advertisement:
You have to be impressed when a hanging advertisement for an Elvis record sells for $2,000. This 14 inch diameter in-store promotion featured Elvis’ second single “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” released on September 25, 1954. The auction website calls it custom-made, so presumably Sun Records made just a few for the local record stores. This one came from Popular Tunes, a record store in Memphis where Elvis shopped and hung out. It is rumored that when he released a new song, Elvis would hide around the corner to watch people go in and buy his new record.
Signed 1953 Humes High School Yearbook:
Every year or two another one of these Humes High School yearbooks shows up at auction. Elvis must have autographed the books of nearly every girl in his graduating class, and his usual message was a variation of, “Best of luck to a cute girl,” as it is in this one. The auction website describes all the pages in the yearbook pertaining to Elvis:
Elvis is depicted in his senior class portrait wearing a suit jacket and tie with a curl of hair falling onto his forehead. He has listed his major as “Shop, History, English” and his activities as “R.O.T.C., Biology Club, English Club, History Club, and Speech Club. The yearbook is 112 pages and Elvis is also mentioned on page 30 in the class’ Last Will and Testament in Section 83: “Donald Williams, Raymond McCraig and Elvis Presley leave hoping there will be someone to take their places as ‘teachers’ pets.’” Elvis is also pictured on page 56, in the 5th period 12th grade English class photo, in the back row.
If you would like to see these pages, click here.
These yearbooks are always popular with bidders, and after 15 bids, the price on this went up to $4,250, about what they usually bring.
1957 Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Toppings Canisters from the Graceland TV Room:
When Elvis bought Graceland in 1957, he started remodeling immediately. He hired an interior decorator and let him decide what to do with the place. But Elvis did ask for two specific things. He wanted the most beautiful bedroom in Memphis for his mother — and he wanted a soda fountain so his friends could come and sit and have soda. He installed the ice cream machine, along with the soda fountain and topping canisters, in the bar area of the basement TV Room downstairs.
There are six ceramic canisters. The taller ones are 9 inches tall and have a soda pump. The three toppings canisters are 6 inches tall and have a chrome lid with a serving spoon attached. Two of the soda fountains are labeled “Coca Cola” and “Root Beer,” while two of the topping canisters are marked “Marshmallow” and “Strawberry.” Two labels are missing. The set stayed in Graceland until 1974 when Linda Thompson did the remodel.
Bidding was rather light on this, but it went for $4,000. If the new owner could find a photo of Elvis standing in front of it, the value would surely go up.
Two Reels of 8mm Film from 1959-62:
I believe someone got a real steal on this. These two rolls of film had the ridiculously low starting bid of $500 and pre-auction estimate of $1,000-1,500. They sold for $3,750.
These very interesting reels of 8 mm film contain footage of Elvis Presley and his Graceland home over a number of years, plus Elvis on location for Follow that Dream in 1961. The total viewing time is almost 20 minutes, but there is no sound. The scenes include:
Elvis Playing Football in 1961
Elvis Playing Football in 1962
His 21st Birthday Party where he kisses half a dozen different girls on the cheek as they pose for still photos.
Miscellaneous scenes showing Graceland.
Elvis signing autographs on location for Follow That Dream in Aug. 1961.” The scene shows a crowd discovering Elvis at his hotel and surrounding him, and soon he diligently signs autographs.
Based on labels on the reels, it is assumed that Ms. Pam Drew of Chicago shot this film. It seems like she (and perhaps girlfriends) caught up with Elvis a few times and had the camera ready. It is uncertain whether this film was ever shared or distributed.
The reason I think the top bid was a steal is because of the possibilities all the screen grabs present for marketing. Those shots of Elvis kissing the girls at his birthday party should alone generate big bucks for licensing. Somebody could add narration and music and editing and turn the footage into a DVD. There were 32 bids on this film, making it all the more surprising it didn’t go for a larger sum.
1953 “Annual Minstrel” Talent Show Program at Humes High School:
Well, you wouldn’t be allowed to put an image like this on a program for a high school variety show these days. Apparently, it was okay back on April 9, 1953. Elvis is the 16th act, listed as “Guitarist,” but the interesting thing is that his last name is spelled “Prestly.”
The winning bid for this program was $2,125, about what the pre-auction estimate projected.
Necklace – Possibly Stage-Worn in 1957:
I’m not sure why the auction website was so cautious about saying Elvis wore this item. Although they didn’t have a Letter of Authenticity from J.D. Sumner, to whom Elvis gave the neckless (along with additional tokens given to him by fans). But, they did have a LOA from Mike Moon of The Elvis Museum. Sumner gave it to the museum in the 1970s. The pendant, contains Catholic symbols on a clover-shaped design on the front, and reads on the reverse, “I am Catholic, please call a priest.”
This photo was snapped prior to Elvis’ March 28, 1957 performance at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago where he wore his famous gold-leaf suit. The website says the pendant in the picture “is very possibly the exact pendant” in the auction. Bidders must have believed this, because they ran the final price up to $8,750.
Complete Set of Five Elvis Presley Sun Records 45 RPM Records:
I agree with the auction website that most collectors have to build this collection piece by piece, so it was a rare occasion to have all five Elvis Sun singles available together. Twenty bids ran the price up to $8,750
The collection includes:
1954 Sun 209 “That’s All Right” / “Blue Moon of Kentucky” (Sample stamped in red on both sides)
1954 Sun 210 “Good Rockin’ Tonight” / “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine”
1955 Sun 215 “Milkcow Blues Boogie” / “You’re A Heartbreaker”
1955 Sun 217 “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” / “Baby Let’s Play House”
1955 Sun 223 “Mystery Train” / “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.”
Can you make a guess which of these is the most difficult to acquire? The answer is Sun 215 “Milkcow Blues Boogie.” Four of the five records in this set are rated Very Good or better. # 217 has single crack through playing surface. You can bet the new owner of this set will still be looking for a better copy of “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.”
Historic January 25, 1956, Elvis Presley First Signed Document as an Adult – Certifying Earlier Agreements with Colonel Parker:
Col. Tom Parker convinced Elvis and his parents to allow him to manage his career and had them all sign a contract in August 1955. Gladys and Vernon had to sign it because Elvis was just 20 years old and considered a minor. The Colonel obviously wanted something stronger, so when Elvis turned 21, Parker had Elvis sign another contract where he reaffirms his agreement to the earlier contract. It seems like Parker skipped using an attorney and composed it himself using his best legal-sounding language. He refers to himself as both “me” and Col. Thomas A Parker in the document. And when he refers to Elvis as an “infant,” he obviously meant “minor.” Have fun reading this attempt at legalese.
On this 25 day of January, 1956, before me personally appeared ELVIS PRESLEY, to me known to be the individual described in and who executed this instrument, and he duly acknowledged to me that on November 21, 1955, he entered into and signed certain management and representation agreements with Col. Thomas A. Parker, that said instruments were formerly signed and executed by him when he was still an infant under the age of 21 years, that he has since arrived at full age and is desirous of confirming the signing and execution of said agreements, and he now acknowledges that he does hereby confirm said agreements as and for his act and deed, for the purposes therein contained.
Of course the contract had a big effect on Elvis’ life. It also sold for $21,250 at this auction.
1956 Signed Copy of His First Album Elvis Presley:
As far as I know, no autographed Elvis album has sold for as much as this one. The estimate of $5-10,000 seemed reasonable, but 37 bids rocketed the price up to $25,000.
What makes this album so special? The auction website says that signed copies of the Elvis Presley LP are few and far between. However, this one has an extra feature – a close connection to the inner workings of the Presley organization. The back cover has an inscription, “To Trude, A great little gal. Thanks and good luck, Elvis Presley.” This is Trude Forsher, Elvis and Colonel Parker’s west coast secretary and promotions coordinator from 1956-1961.
You may not know this fact about Elvis’ first album as explained on the auction website:
In 1956, “Heartbreak Hotel” was already a smash hit, and RCA wanted to capitalize on the heavy TV presence of its young star. So five songs RCA acquired from Sun Records when it bought Elvis’ contract were combined with seven RCA recordings to round out the album.
The front and back of the sleeve have separated from heavy use. The back of the sleeve has several areas of tape and tape residue, including one that affects “Trude” in the inscription. None of these distresses affect the Elvis signature. The bidders apparently didn’t care about this album cover not being in the best of shape. Although the photos show that the vinyl record is included, not one word was said about its condition.
Wraparound Sunglasses – Worn on the Set of Follow That Dream:
I know you have heard of Ray-Bans and Foster Grants, but how about Renauld sunglasses?
In the 1960s, Renauld of France created a stylish and futuristic wrap-around style sunglasses that were popular with celebrities and sport enthusiasts. The above “Sea & Ski Spectacular” model was touted as appearing to float on the face. The green lenses were guaranteed distortion-free and contained a special UV formula filter.
Elvis always wanted to be at the forefront of fashion, so it was important to him to have this latest hot item. The story of how Elvis got this pair is described in a letter from Elvis’ buddy Alan Fortas on the auction website:
“I was with Elvis during the filming of the movie Follow That Dream down in Ocala, Florida. Elvis has wanted a pair of these new wrap-around sunglasses that had just come out. He had me look in shops around town and I couldn’t find any. When Elvis wanted something he wanted it ‘NOW.’ There were hundreds of people around the set wanting autographs and just wanting to watch Elvis.
“Well, eagle eye Elvis saw someone in the crowd with a pair of the sunglasses that he wanted. He yelled at me and pointed to the person in the crowd and told me to go and ask him where he got them, and, if I had to, buy them from him. When Elvis gave you a task you followed it. Turned out the guy that was wearing them got them as a gift and he didn’t know where they came from. I said I’ll give you $50.00 for them. He said make it $100 and he’d sell them. That’s how Elvis finally got these sunglasses he had been wanting. He wore them constantly when we weren’t filming. Eventually Elvis got tired of these when he started wearing another style and gave these to me.”
The Renauld sunglasses went for $11,875, which is more than Elvis’ familiar EP design from the 70s bring at auction. There have been many of those, but this pair of Elvis shades is one of a kind.
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