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    Auction Finds

    Elvis Presley memorabilia

    Sometimes at auction, I’ll buy a box lot of stuff without even having checked it out. Usually, there’s something neat tucked down in the bottom, maybe of little valuable but interesting anyway.

    That happened a couple weeks ago. I had overlooked a flat box in a glass case at one of my favorite auction houses. When the box finally came up for bids, the auctioneer kept reminding us that it contained some nifty items.

    Curious and nosy, I bid on the box and got it for $2. “There’s some good stuff in there,” the auctioneer said as he handed it to me.

    I started sifting through the items: 2 Mutoscope pinup girl cards. A 1946 Cartoon Digest magazine.  Red Cross and Atlantic City postcards. A 1966 Mickey Mouse comic book missing its cover. “The Story of Lucky Strike” from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Two View-Master reels (“The Easter Story” and “The Christmas Story”). A risque cartoon book featuring ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy. “Works of J. Fenimore Cooper” (1891). Elvis Presley memorabilia.

    Now, the box had gotten interesting. I don’t see many Elvis items at the auctions I attend. Once, I did come across an old eight-track tape of Christmas songs of his among a lot of 45-rpm records. It was the 1975 Pickwick Records remake of “Elvis Christmas Album.” If anything else has come up, I likely just didn’t notice. I respect all those folks who love Elvis to death, but he has never been one of my favorite singers.

    I have to admit, though, that when I was in Memphis a couple years ago and making the rounds of tourist attractions – Stax Records was at the top of my list – I went on the Elvis estate tour. The man was part of the country’s musical history and heritage, so I figured that I couldn’t be in Memphis without checking out Graceland.

    I toured the mansion (and was awed by the tackiness of some of the furnishings, 1950s style, as I recall), the grounds (which were just lovely), the trophy room (huge) and his place of rest (solemn). Afterward, I even bought an “I’ve Been to Graceland” refrigerator magnet from the gift shop. That was the gist of my Elvis experience.

    The box at auction yielded three Elvis items:

    A pocket mirror with a young Elvis on the flip side. Printed on the edge on the mirror side was “Copyright 1956. Elvis Presley Enterprises.” This was around the time Elvis was with both his first manager Bob Neal and Tom Parker. According to wikipedia, Neal had formed the company to capitalize on Elvis’ popularity through merchandise sales. When Parker took over completely, he absorbed and mothballed it. Until 1981, when it was incorporated in Tennessee for basically the same purpose.

    A gold-tone chain bracelet with a photo of a mutton-chopped Elvis on a medallion. The bracelet was in a plastic case with a suede-like blue lining. The previous owner had stuck a price tag to it: “Rare. $35.00.” Is it worth that? Who knows. Items are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them at any given time.

    First Day of Issue Elvis stamp, Jan. 8, 1993, in Memphis. The stamp and a picture of a young Elvis (“Eternal King of Rock and Roll, gone but not forgotten”) were encased in plastic inside a black notebook. Two printed bios were also tucked inside. Someone had written a note on a half-sheet of paper: “Howard, Happy Anniversary. Love, Helen.” The stamp is the U.S. Post Office’s most popular commemorative stamp.

    These Elvis items were apparently part of someone’s Elvis treasures.

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