Elvis Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935, and he died Aug. 16, 1977. He left a legacy that continues to inspire many fans to this day.
In addition to his mansion, Graceland, his mountain of hit records and his popular movies, Elvis still connects with collectors decades after his untimely death. Beloved by millions, Elvis was a star among stars.
Recently, I made my way to Memphis to pay homage to the king of rock 'n' roll. Visiting Graceland was a truly moving experience.
Photo courtesy of Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
This photo shows The Jungle Room at Graceland. Elvis Presley’s famous home is both a museum and a memorial.
Elvis' famous home is both a museum and a memorial. While the living room and kitchen certainly were throwbacks to the 1970s, the upstairs bedrooms were off-limits in keeping with Elvis' tradition of only meeting guests on the main floor of the home. Graceland visitors are only allowed to tour the main floor and lower areas of the main house.
The most interesting room was the famed Jungle Room located just off the kitchen. Decorated in typical exotica furniture and accessories from the late 1960s/early 1970s, this room was Elvis' informal music room where he played the guitar and sang with his friends.
My visit was met with a few surprises. For instance, I did not realize that Elvis was a twin. I did not know that he was born in Tupelo, not Memphis. At Graceland, there were significant yet respectful crowds. The staff members were true professionals and helpful in every way.
Collectors are devoted to Elvis and what some call "Elvis-abilia," in a manner that differs from that of other celebrities or rock stars. Elvis was an icon, and while his hit records are valuable on today's secondary market, it is his global appeal that has attracted so many collectors to Elvis objects.
Elvis made a career out of connecting with his audiences. What's more, his personal decisions to serve in the military and to support American causes contribute to his widespread popular appeal. He raised funds to help construct Hawaii's famed U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, assisted in the fight against drug abuse and helped underprivileged children. He was immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp in 1992. The Elvis stamp remains the most publicized stamp in U.S. history, yet its collectible value is rather low since so many- more than 500 million - were distributed.
Many Elvis collectibles are quite pricey. His bejeweled stage costumes are on view at Graceland and some have sold to collectors at costs ranging from $30,000 to $300,000. An early career leather jacket brought $37,000 from one collector at a sale.
In the costume exhibition area at Graceland, fans can see Elvis' gold records, movie costumes, Priscilla Presley's wedding gown and daughter Lisa Marie's infant clothes.
Elvis was an avid collector of American automobiles, namely Cadillacs dating from the 1950s through the 1970s. His classic cars are on display in a special exhibit at Graceland.
In addition, Elvis recordings continue to bring high prices. A Sun Record 45 rpm recording of "That's All Right" in its original paper sleeve sold for $1,100.00.
Major fine artists also helped to further immortalize Elvis. Andy Warhol's pop art masterpiece of Elvis Presley from 1963 entitled, "Single Elvis," in silkscreen ink on a silvered background sold at auction for $3.3 million. It's good to be king. It's even better to collect the king.
(Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author and award-winning TV personality Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. As seen on NBC's "The Tonight Show" and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Dr. Lori appears on Lifetime Television. To learn more about antiques, visit www.DrLoriV.com or www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori, or call 888-431-1010.)