Elvis lives on
Fans will celebrate and remember Elvis Presley on Sunday, 77 years after he was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Miss.
In 1954, Elvis began his singing career with Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn. His bluesy vocal style and electrifying live performances opened up the nation to a new world of pop culture.
By 1956, at the age of 21, Elvis was a global sensation.
Highly collectible items
Fans of Elvis are still found around the world. Elvis memorabilia is highly collectible, with museums and other sites of interest dedicated to the star.
"My wife JulAnn and I are not really 'collectors,' but instead more like entertainers," says local Elvis impersonator Brad Boice. "While we do have a few Elvis items, they are mostly gifts from fans of ours."
Many children today know Elvis' name and music in large part because of the abundance of Elvis memorabilia and the impersonators who work to keep his memory alive.
"At our shows we see fans that are the same age as Elvis would have been, but we also see lots of younger fans, too — elementary-age kids who know who Elvis was and know some of his songs," Boice says. "By purchasing some type of Elvis collectible, they get to keep a connection with Elvis."
Since Elvis burst upon the '50s scene wailing "Heartbreak Hotel" and through his death in 1977, his personal and collectible items have generated a wealth of memorabilia.
"The largest amount of Elvis items that we have are books written about him. We probably have 25 to 30 of them," Boice says. "We also have six framed collector 45s and a collector record album that has a 'waist-up' photo of Elvis in his '68 comeback leather engrained into the album itself.
"We also have a few photos of Elvis, different Elvis bottled wines and champagnes and many Elvis Beanie Babies."
Prices for Elvis memorabilia may level out as lifelong fans get older, so it is important to invest wisely. Various guides on the market include the "Official Price Guide to Elvis Presley Records and Memorabilia: Second Edition" by author Jerry Osborne, and the standard 2012 Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide.
According to Schroeder’s, a 1956 Elvis Presley Emenee six-string guitar with the original box can be worth as much as $2,000. Without a box, but also in excellent condition, the same guitar can be worth as much as $500.
"We believe most people purchase Elvis collectibles because they love Elvis, not because they think the item is going to make them rich," Boice says. "We suggest purchasing an Elvis collectible that you really like."
Beware of reproductions, as some are so well done that even the most knowledgeable collector can be fooled. While there is always a chance an Elvis collector might get lucky and find that one-of-a-kind item, Boice says it's likely the item is fake if it seems too good to be true.
Collectors can find their own personal satisfaction in their collections even if it doesn't have high monetary value.
"We don't believe any of our Elvis collectibles have a very high monetary value. They do, however, mean a great deal to us because of where they came from: our fans," Boice says. "We really appreciate their support. Our basement is dedicated mostly to music and we work on our shows there, so all of our collectibles are displayed there where we can see them."