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Collectors gear up for Elvis auction

A major sale of artefacts from the life of Elvis Presley is due to take place at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee later today. The auction consists of 72 lots and includes everything from his marriage certificate to his front door keys.

Ahead of the event, let’s take a brief look at some of the most interesting lots.

Early signature

The signature is one of the  earliest known examples

The signature is one of the earliest known examples

Elvis signed this library card in 1947 when he was in 7th grade. During that year he was beginning to gain recognition for his singing and performed twice on local personality Mississippi Slim’s radio show.

The piece is one of the earliest known examples of Elvis’ signature, meaning its likely to attract a high degree of interest from collectors.

Shooting target

Elvis was an avid gun collector

Elvis was an avid gun collector

Elvis had an enormous collection of guns. After a number of death threats he carried one on his person at all times, even while he was on stage.

His penchant for firing at the TV whenever singer and longtime rival Robert Goulet appeared onscreen in the stuff of legend.

This target was set up in his smokehouse in the grounds of Graceland, which he used as a shooting range.

Marriage certificate

Elvis and Priscilla married in Las Vegas

Elvis and Priscilla married in Las Vegas

This marriage certificate records Elvis’ wedding to Priscilla in Las Vegas in 1967. The couple spent a total of eight minutes in the chapel before jetting off for their honeymoon.

Ironically it was sent back to the marriage office stamped “return to sender” and was kept by one of the clerks, who sold it at auction in the mid 90s.


These keys were used in the couple's honeymoon

These keys were used in the couple’s honeymoon

This set of keys for Elvis’ holiday home in Palm Springs, California were taken on his honeymoon with Priscilla. The couple spent a couple of days in the luxury apartment before flying on to Memphis.

A Los Angeles Police Department keyring is a nice touch. Alongside his gun obsession, Elvis was an avid collector of police badges.

by Tom


An axe to die for – guitars at auction this December

Drummers, I’m sorry to say this, but in the grand scheme of things…nobody cares.

You’re instrument may be the glue that holds a band together, but when it comes to fan favourites, you’re last on the list.

I guess you all ready knew that; it’s an old adage that’s been bandied around since man first began hitting things with sticks.

Bassists, likewise. In the eyes of the adoring crowds, you are the drummer’s girlfriend, or a failed guitarist. Unless you have virtuosic slap-bass skills, you can take your place in that dark area at the back of the stage.

I’m sorry to bring you these truths. Even Paul McCartney – writer of some of the best-known bass lines in history – didn’t want to be a bassist.

Regardless of talent, we all know that it’s the guitarist that’s the coolest member of almost any band – next to the singer, that is. If you happen to do both, you’ve reached the pinnacle of performing prowess.

Its why guitars, signed or not, are some of the most sought after instruments by collectors. Everyone remembers Hendrix’s white Stratocaster, but can you remember the bass that Noel Redding was playing beside him at Woodstock? Thought not.

The double-necked Gibson played by Jimmy Page is something of rock legend, but Jon Paul Jones’ bass? Not a clue.

In December, the auction world will be hit with an influx of guitars played by the top axe-wielding heroes.

The most important of these is the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan controversially played at Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

Dylan's use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

Dylan’s use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

The guitar is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of music memorabilia, marking a pivotal moment in the career of perhaps the most celebrated songwriter of all time.

Also selling is Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, a custom made 1982 Kramer that was used throughout the 1982-1983 Diver Down Tour, and bears the scars of 1980s rock n’ roll excess to prove it. Instantly recognisable to anyone that plays, the Frankenstrat is nothing less than an icon.

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

With Deadheads still as dedicated to the California psych-rockers as ever, two almost identical guitars from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia will appear at Bonhams and Julien’s Auctions just days apart from each other.

The guitar features a sticker that read, "There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert".

The guitar features a sticker that read, “There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert”.

Garcia’s guitars are legendary, and there are no shortage of them to keep collectors interested. The two best-known examples, nicknamed Tiger and Wolf, sold for $957,500 and $789,500 respectively in 2002.

Comparatively, Ginger Baker’s drum kit, a fantastic piece from one of the top-rated and best loved drummers of all time, is valued at just $24,166-32,222 in the Bonhams auction. Sorry drummers, its nothing personal.

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Completing the line-up of axes at auction this December is Elvis’ limited edition NBN acoustic guitar, which is selling for more than $50,000 at Heritage auctions.

Yet it looks like I spoke to soon on the bassist’s behalf…

One of Paul McCartney’s trademark Hofner basses is  also coming to auction with an estimate of $150,000-200,000; far more than most I’ve listed already.

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney's trademark instrument, yet there's no proof he ever played this example

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney’s trademark instrument, yet there’s no proof he ever played this example

But don’t get your hopes up just yet bassists, you’ve a lot of catching up to do before you can compete with a Beatle! On the plus side, whether drummer or bassist you are likely to be less egotistical and likely to live for longer than your limelight-loving guitarist – at least you can take comfort in that.

See our music memorabilia for sale, and take a look at our top five electric guitars at auction list.


PS, if any readers fancy buying me one of the these for Christmas, in thanks for my fascinating posts, I’ll take the Dylan Strat or Elvis Acoustic! Thanks!

Today in 1954: Elvis hits the big time

Some call this the start of rock and roll.

Today in 1954, Elvis Presley recorded That’s All Right (Mama), a song that would quickly gain the 19-year-old truck driver plenty of airtime and attention around Memphis and the surrounding region.

Elvis Presley

No more trucking for Elvis

During a break in recording uninspiring versions of Harbor Lights and I Love You Because at Sun Records, Elvis picked up a guitar and began playing Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s That’s All Right at double speed.

Producer Sam Phillips immediately knew he had struck gold.

The song hit the local airwaves two days later and was released as a single within two weeks.

The Elvis story had begun. A story that endures. To such an extent that 700,000 visitors pay a visit to Graceland each year, and his personal bible sold for £59,000 ($94,388) in 2012.

At Paul Fraser Collectibles we have a strong range of Elvis memorabilia in stock – including strands of The King’s hair!

Great expectations for PFC’s spring auction

The spring auction of our sister company PFC Auctions kicked off on May 16, and is now in full swing.

There are some fantastic lots available, such as Marilyn Monroe’s bustier, John Lennon’s bathrobe, Elvis’ jacket, The Beatles’ bed linen, Michael Jackson’s Fedora, and Margaret Thatcher’s shoes, as well as some superb original drawings, signed photographs, and an original Concorde plane window.

H5159-L43958284  H5159-L43958127  H5159-L43958296  H5159-L43958039

H5159-L43958150  H5159-L43958290

As we follow the auction, our office has become divided over two lots in particular, disagreeing about the one that will attract the most interest, and the highest final price.

These are namely Lady Gaga’s acrylic fingernail and Charles Dickens’ walking stick.



Now us literature fans are all for the historical import of the Dickens stick, a recognisable element of his character that ‘he carried by him in London when procuring the matter for his story Oliver Twist’.

But some of my colleagues contest that the fame monster, celebrity, will win out. Gaga is a pop and fashion icon; her outlandish costumes are world famous, and to own a piece of one of these is very desirable.

Dickens’ toothpick sold for $9,150 at Bonhams in 2009. Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance stage worn headpiece sold for $11,875 at Julien’s in 2012.

As I write this, the Lady Gaga fingernail is at £1,000 after 11 bids, and the Dickens cane at £3,000 after 8 bids, suggesting that while the Gaga fingernail is indeed more popular, the Dickens walking stick is more valuable.

But as the auction runs until the 30th, there is plenty of time for some poker-faced Gaga fans to swoop in and bid the nail up, or for a bidding war to kindle for Dickens’ closest companion on his famed walks around Victorian London.

Whatever the outcome, both are fantastic items to own. The solid inevitability of a historic literary figure, and the excitement and immediacy of a pop culture icon.

Visit our auction on Artfact to keep track of the bids yourself!


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