the elvis presley gold standard 45s part 1 (foreword)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 18 minutes.

THE GOLD STAN­DARD SE­RIES of reis­sues of Elvis Pres­ley’s 45 pm sin­gles ran for more than forty years. During this time, ninety-five records were re­leased, in­cluding thir­teen unique pic­ture sleeves! Some of these records went through five label changes, meaning each has five major vari­a­tions of in­terest to must-have-it-all Elvis col­lec­tors, of which there are more than a few.

De­spite the fact that these records have been around this long and have been listed in hun­dreds of discogra­phies, a great deal of con­fu­sion sur­rounds them. Until now and this se­ries of ar­ti­cles on the Elvis - A Touch Of Gold website.


This is part 1 of the most com­plete discog­raphy and ac­cu­rate price guide to Elvis’ Gold Stan­dard 45s on the Internet.


The Gold Stan­dard Se­ries of reissue sin­gles with which Elvis fans are fa­miliar (the 447-0600 se­ries) did not begin until late 1958. And it is these records that I will ad­dress in this ar­ticle, the first of a se­ries on the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries 45s. But first, let’s get back to the orig­inal Gold Stan­dard releases.




In 1955, RCA Victor launched the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries, ap­par­ently to present a va­riety of Glenn Miller sides to the public in the 45 rpm format. RCA fa­vored the artist by printing generic sleeves for the records with photos, art, and text—including a list of the sev­en­teen Miller ti­tles then in print (0031–0047).

Gold Standard 45s and EPs

In 1955, RCA Victor in­au­gu­rated the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries with the re­lease of a se­ries of 45 rpm sin­gles (447-0000 se­ries). Sev­eral hun­dred ti­tles were re­leased, mostly reis­sues of 78s of the swing music so pop­ular with pre­vious gen­er­a­tion of record buyers.

This se­ries was no­table for its ded­i­ca­tion to the music of such stars as Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey but es­pe­cially RCA’s biggest big band star, Glenn Miller.

In 1957, the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries in­tro­duced a line of 45 rpm extended-play al­bums (EPs). These al­bums also col­lected pre­vi­ously re­leased 78 rpm sides by pop­ular jazz and big band mu­si­cians: the first number, EPA-5000, was by Louis Arm­strong, who was still going strong in the ’50s. Other se­lected artists in­cluded such lesser lights as Charlie Barnet and Bunny Berigan and the brightest light of them all, Ed­ward ‘Duke’ Ellington.

Each of the EPs from 1957 was a good-looking package: each fea­tured a tasteful full-color photo on the front cover. The back cover usu­ally fea­tured recording in­for­ma­tion on the album tracks, a very nice and very un­usual touch for col­lec­tors and his­to­rians in the ’50s. There was also a state­ment of a de­c­la­ra­tion at the bottom of each back cover:

“The des­ig­na­tion Gold Stan­dard Se­ries in­di­cates a col­lec­tion of mem­o­rable per­for­mances which are now avail­able for the first time in a 45 EP economy package. Se­lected from out­standing RCA Victor single re­leases, these record­ings are some of the finest ever made by RCA Victor artists.”

This new se­ries of EPs was ob­vi­ously aimed at an older group of cus­tomers (par­ents, not teens), of­fering them “mem­o­rable” record­ings from their past. I haven’t a clue as to how well these al­bums sold; for­tu­nately, it is of little im­port to this ar­ticle. 1

In 1958, RCA fol­lowed up the ini­tial re­lease of ten EPs with sev­eral dozen new ti­tles, all EPs, all old 78 sides of jazz and big band music. The bit of brag­gadocio on the back covers of the album was modified:

“The aim of the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries is to re­pro­duce, on 45 EPs, per­for­mances of en­during mu­sical value that cannot be du­pli­cated today. Re­pro­cessing by the latest recording tech­niques has en­hanced the sound of these orig­inal per­for­mances by RCA Vic­tor’s greatest artists. 2

When RCA Victor launched the Gold Stan­dard 0600 se­ries in late 1958, nine­teen of the first twenty num­bers were Elvis ti­tles from 1955–57! In the early ’60s, RCA began adding more Elvis ti­tles to the se­ries. Most of these records re­mained in print to the end of RCA’s man­u­fac­turing of 45 rpm records in the early ’90s.




In 1957, the first Gold Stan­dard Se­ries EP was EPA-5000, simply ti­tled Louis Arm­strong. As this se­ries was aimed at an older au­di­ence wanting fa­miliar music in the new 45 rpm format, each record was pack­aged ap­pro­pri­ately: each album came in an at­trac­tive card­board jacket with ex­cel­lent full-color pho­tographs adorning the front covers.

Gold Standard 447-0600 series

In late 1958, RCA in­tro­duced the Gold Stan­dard 447-0600 se­ries that fo­cused al­most ex­clu­sively on reis­suing Elvis sin­gles! De­spite the fact that this se­ries has been with us for more than fifty years, there is still con­fu­sion about the records. Most of it cen­ters around two topics:

  As there were five label de­signs be­tween 1958 and 2000, which num­bers were re­leased with which label designs?

•  As the press runs for each number varied dra­mat­i­cally from one de­sign to the next, which num­bers are the rarest in what de­sign and how much are they worth?

With the eight parts of Elvis’ Gold Stan­dard 45s here on A Touch Of Gold, I an­swer those two ques­tions, al­though not to the de­gree that I would like.


KayeStarr GoldStandard EPA 5018 600

A little historical background

RCA is an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the Radio Cor­po­ra­tion of America, which was formed in 1919 in a strange mar­riage in­volving the Amer­ican Mar­coni wire­less com­pany with Gen­eral Elec­tric and West­ing­house, among other players. The orig­inal in­ten­tion was for pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions to work with the US gov­ern­ment on wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but one thing led to an­other and cap­i­talism prevailed.

In 1929, RCA pur­chased the Victor Talking Ma­chine Com­pany, then the world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of phono­graphs and phono­graph records. With this ac­qui­si­tion, RCA ac­quired the rights to Victor’s fa­mous trade­mark, the dog Nipper cocking an ear at the horn of an an­tique phono­graph. This image is for­ever as­so­ci­ated with RCA Victor to gen­er­a­tions of music lovers.

Like every other record com­pany at the time, Victor man­u­fac­tured 78 rpm sin­gles: 10-inch records with one song per side, each less than three min­utes in length. Made with a shellac-like com­pound, these fragile records were easily broken by less-than-careful handling.

Nonethe­less, the 78 re­mained the pri­mary medium for recorded sound for more than fifty years, far longer than the 45, the LP, the cas­sette tape, or the CD!

In 1948, Co­lumbia rev­o­lu­tion­ized the record busi­ness by in­tro­ducing the 12-inch 33⅓ long-playing LP record album. The slower speed and larger size al­lowed al­most twenty min­utes of music per side! They were also made with a vinyl-based com­pound that was ef­fec­tively un­break­able in normal use!

Rather than take Co­lumbia head-on, RCA Victor coun­tered with an­other new format: a 7-inch record that played at 45 rpm. While it did not im­prove on ei­ther fi­delity or playing time, the 45 was also made of a more durable, vinyl-based com­pound which gave the records a less noisy playing surface.

And the 45 was con­sid­er­ably more con­ve­nient than the 78: to carry a stack of 78s re­quired two hands and a re­li­able sense of bal­ance. But with the 45, any fool with one hand with an op­pos­able digit could carry a stack of the latest hits—even if he had two left feet!

The 45 was a hit, but not big enough to offset the sales of the LP for Co­lumbia. So in 1950, RCA Victor began is­suing LPs. By the time of the as­cen­sion of rock & roll in mid-decade, every record com­pany in the US was is­suing 45s and most were also re­leasing LPs.



In early 1899, artist Francis Bar­raud sold the rights to Dog Looking At And Lis­tening To A Phono­graph to the British Gramo­phone Com­pany. By 1901, the painting was the trade­mark for the Victor Talking Ma­chine Com­pany. From then on, most Victor record la­bels fea­tured the dog and gramo­phone. Be­cause of the bil­lions of records sold by RCA over the past hun­dred years, Nipper may be the most well-known dog in the world.

Pop music for now people

The market for recorded music prior to the ’50s was es­sen­tially a market for adult buyers. The ‘youth market’ was non-existent, as kids had little or no pocket money (just like most of their par­ents). And teenagers tended to listen to the same type of music as their par­ents: big band music was hip with kids in the ’30s and ’40s, and then the bob­bysoxers went gaga for the singers when they quit their fa­vorite bands to pursue suc­cess as a solo act, no­tably the young Frankie Sinatra.

In the early ’50s, white teenagers began lis­tening and dancing to and then buying rhythm & blues records by black artists. A handful of white disc-jockeys pied-pipered the new music to the white kids in the cities by playing ‘race records’ on sev­eral large radio sta­tions. 3

And these kids were blessed by the emerging age of pros­perity in the US: due to their re­ceiving an al­lowance from working-class par­ents, they had the pocket money to buy lots of those records. 4

When Elvis is­sued his first single in 1954, Amer­ican youth was al­ready primed for a new sound. But as new and re­freshing as Pres­ley’s music and mes­sage were, and as much as there may have been a market primed to re­ceive his mes­sage, Sam Phillips’s itty-bitty Sun Records did not have the clout to move that mes­sage out of their re­gional mar­kets. 5

In late 1955, Colonel Tom Parker con­vinced RCA Victor to buy Elvis Pres­ley’s con­tract for an un­prece­dented sum. The former truck driver from Mem­phis was in the Big Time in New York and on the new-fangled con­trap­tion called tele­vi­sion and things started hap­pening and things haven’t been the same for any­body any­where ever since but that’s an­other story.


The des­ig­na­tion Gold Stan­dard Se­ries in­di­cates a col­lec­tion of mem­o­rable per­for­mances se­lected from out­standing RCA Victor single releases.


Back to back hits for other artists

In the over­whelming ma­jority of cases, when a 45 rpm single has run its course as a cat­alog item (that is, it is ‘in print’), and its time is up, it’s up! This ap­plies whether it was a mas­sive hit for a new pop artist who may have nothing left in them after this mo­ment in the sun, or it’s the latest chart entry by an es­tab­lished country artist who will keep his au­di­ence even after death.

Even big hits have little value after their fif­teen min­utes of fame, and most record com­pa­nies delete the title and move on to the next round of re­leases and hopeful hits. Few records that were more than three months old had any vi­a­bility on the market.

But a few do and record com­pa­nies often es­tab­lished a sep­a­rate se­ries for those records. The most common se­ries is a back-to-back hits ap­proach: in­stead of reis­suing the orig­inal record, the hit sides of two records are com­bined so that the record is more ap­pealing to cus­tomers looking for just the hits.

With Presley’s records on the Gold Stan­dard Se­ries, RCA Victor just de­cided that there was too much de­mand for the flip-sides to ig­nore them and simply reis­sued the orig­inal records ex­actly as they were, with the orig­inal A- and B-sides. That is, the flip-sides were treated with the same weight as the fea­tured sides. This kept Presley’s canon alive and well into the 21st century.


SammyKaye GoldStandard EPA 5076 600

Gold Standard label designs

The Gold Stan­dard Se­ries of Elvis 45s lasted from 1958 through 2000, after which RCA stopped man­u­fac­turing sin­gles. During this time, RCA changed the look of their product sev­eral times. For this se­ries of Elvis’ Gold Stan­dard 45s ar­ti­cles, each of the label de­signs has its own chapter that in­cludes a lengthy in­tro­duc­tion and as com­plete a discog­raphy and price guide as can be found any­where. This is an out­line of the de­signs. 6

Part 3 (1958–1965)

Glossy black la­bels with “RCA Victor” and Nipper at the top above the spindle hole (both at 12 o’­clock). Many col­lec­tors refer to these as dog-on-top (DOT) press­ings; I prefer to refer to them as RCA-Victor-on-top pressings.

Part 5 (1965–1968)

Glossy black la­bels with “RCA Victor” on the right side of the spindle hole (at 3 o’clock) and Nipper on the left side (at 9 o’clock). Many col­lec­tors refer to these as dog-on-side (DOS) press­ings; prefer to I refer to them as RCA-Victor-on-the-side pressings.

Part 6 (1968–1979)

Glossy or­ange la­bels with “RCA” on the left side of the spindle hole and “Victor” on the right side. Poor ol’ Shep—I mean, ol’ Nipper—was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped from the label!

Part 7 (1970–1976)

Glossy red la­bels with “RCA” on the left side of the spindle hole, and “Victor” on the right side. Still no Nipper.

Part 8 (1976–2000)

Non-glossy black la­bels with “RCA” only at the top (12 o’­clock) and Nipper re­turned but to the upper right (1 o’­clock). Many col­lec­tors refer to these as dog-near-top (DNT) or new black press­ings; I prefer to refer to them as RCA-on-top pressings.

The discogra­phies in these ar­ti­cles are listed in order by cat­alog number. With each label de­sign change, the en­tire se­ries is listed from 0600 on. The year of re­lease is based on Keith Fly­nn’s Elvis Presley Pages, a web­site that lists the month, day, and year for the first ap­pear­ance of every Gold Stan­dard Se­ries record (along with the stan­dard cat­alog of sin­gles, EP and LP al­bums, tapes, and CDs). It is one of the pre­mier Presley sites on the In­ternet and you owe your­self a visit there!

Gold Standard company sleeves

Each of these records was shipped in a paper sleeve; some were plain white or brown sleeves, de­void of print. Most, how­ever, had printed in­for­ma­tion on them, usu­ally the com­pany logo and “Gold Stan­dard Se­ries.” These generic sleeves are known as com­pany sleeves and are cov­ered in more de­tail in The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 2.


GlennMiller GoldStandard EPA 5008 600

On assigned values and grading

De­ter­mining the rarity of each number with each label de­sign is dif­fi­cult: the press run for any given number on a spe­cific label de­sign was based on how many copies were still in in­ven­tory on the pre­vious label de­sign. Un­less someone un­earths RCA doc­u­men­ta­tion from the ’60s and ’70s on or­ders placed to In­di­anapolis for new 45s, the only way we have to know today is through the marketplace.

The values as­signed in these discographies/price guides are estimates—that should be ob­vious, as each record is not as­signed a single value but a spread be­tween two fig­ures.

Ex­ample: a record may be as­signed a value of $15-30, which is a rather gen­erous spread. It simply means that this record can sell for as little as $15 or as much as $30, and both would be rea­son­able prices to pay. 7

The fig­ures should tell you the ap­prox­i­mate range of prices that a buyer should ex­pect to pay a knowl­edge­able seller for a record in near mint (NM) con­di­tion. I ar­rived at the values by con­sulting three web­sites that col­lect data re­garding on­line record sales:


Keep in mind when buying on eBay—where the blind often lead the blind—that most of the sellers do NOT know how to grade accurately!



Pop­sike col­lects data on records that sold at auc­tion on eBay with a min­imum price paid of ap­prox­i­mately $22. The problem with col­lating only auc­tion re­sults is ob­vious: if ten copies of a record sell on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $100 each, they are not listed on Pop­sike. If the only sale of that record from an auc­tion was $26, then that will be only one listing on Pop­sike. That is, if you rely solely on Pop­sike, then a $100 record can ap­pear to be a $26 record.

Con­versely, if a hun­dred copies of a record sell on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $10 each, they are not listed on Pop­sike. If the only sale of that record from an auc­tion was $260, then that will be only one listing on Pop­sike. That is, if you rely solely on Pop­sike, then a $10record can ap­pear to be a $26 record.


Discogs is an in­de­pen­dent site that col­lects data for a mas­sive on­line discog­raphy of every kind of record imag­in­able. It also serves as the pri­mary on­line swap meet for people to sell and buy new, used, and col­lec­table records.


Grip­sweat started out as BIN­Frenzy, listing the Buy It Now sales from eBay that Pop­sike ig­nored. Like Col­lec­tors Frenzy, it lists both auc­tion and sale re­sults from var­ious sites with a min­imum price paid of ap­prox­i­mately $15. The crit­i­cism here is the same as that for Col­lec­tors Frenzy.

Personal experience

I have been buying records for re­sale since 1970. I have sold records at flea mar­kets, swap meets, and col­lec­tors con­ven­tions in eight states and British Co­lumbia. I have ad­ver­tised records for sale in three mag­a­zines and sev­eral on­line venues.

Keeping my crit­i­cisms of each in mind, I added a dollop of common sense to the mix based on my own ex­pe­ri­ences of buying and selling Elvis records since 1977.

A rule-of-thumb: Those num­bers that do not show up for sale with reg­u­larity may be the only in­di­cator we have of that num­ber’s rarity.



Elvis JailhouseRock GoldStandard Japan PS 600

While most Gold Stan­dard Se­ries records were re­leased ex­clu­sively in the US, they did pop up in other coun­tries. This is the Japanaese pic­ture sleeve for a single that cou­pled Jail­house Rock with Heart­break Hotel (RCA SS-2031), prob­ably is­sued in the mid-’60s.

Values are based on condition

The values refer to records in near mint (NM) con­di­tion. That is, records with both la­bels and the vinyl/grooves on both sides in damn near NEW (DNN?) con­di­tion! Records in less than NM con­di­tion are worth con­sid­er­ably less than the values as­signed here!

A record listed here for $25–50 might be a tough sell at $10 in VG+ con­di­tion. And al­ways keep in mind when buying on the In­ternet that many (if not most) of the sellers there are am­a­teurs. They are NOT full-time record dealers. They do NOT know how to grade accurately!

Also, many of the photos in eBay ads are NOT of the item for sale; they are im­ages pulled from an­other site on the Net. So what you see ain’t nec­es­sarily what you get!

Smart buyers are often willing to pay a re­spected dealer more for a record knowing that they will be get­ting ex­actly what was ad­ver­tised and what they paid for!

For more on grading, refer to “On Grading Records.”



A copy of 447-0644 graded near mint was auc­tioned on eBay and sold for $6,000 in 2011! I be­lieve this sale to be bogus, one of those stunts that people pull off for at­ten­tion on the In­ternet. Why? Be­cause sub­se­quent sales of this record have been for $114 and $32 in 2012, $79 in 2013, and $100 in 2014!

Misprintings and mispressings

Er­rors can occur in the man­u­fac­turing of records: the most common are in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion printed on the la­bels, such as a mis­spelled word or some bit of in­cor­rect data. Oc­ca­sion­ally a record is pressed that has the cor­rect recording on each side but has the wrong label on one or both sides. The in­cor­rect label may be from an­other Elvis record or maybe by an­other artist altogether.

The above are ob­vi­ously mis­print­ings.

Many col­lec­tors ig­nore these records, con­sid­ering them of neg­li­gible value. Other col­lec­tors con­sider them le­git­i­mate rar­i­ties and pursue them, paying pre­mium prices for them. Here are two ex­am­ples of misprintings:

 There are red label press­ings of 447-0601, That’s All Right / Blue Moon Of Ken­tucky, with PRESLEY cor­rectly spelled on one side, but mis­spelled as PRE­SELY on the other side. This is rather un­usual and makes such a record a fun ad­di­tion to any collection.

 There are or­ange label press­ings of 447-0644, Kissin’ Cousins / It Hurts Me, that play the two Presley record­ings, but has the or­ange It Hurts Me label on one side, and an or­ange label for My Cup Run­neth Over by Ed Ames (447-0784) on the other side! A copy graded VG- sold for $279 on eBay in Jan­uary 2015.

Far rarer are mis­press­ings, where a record has the cor­rect recording on one side and an in­cor­rect recording on the other side. The cor­rect side is de­ter­mined by the la­bels: if there are two Elvis la­bels but only one Elvis recording, then it is a mis­pressing of an Elvis record.

The op­po­site is true: if it was an RCA Victor pressing with an Elvis recording on one side and an Eddie Arnold recording on the other and the record has two Arnold la­bels, it would be an Eddy Arnold mis­pressing. (Of course, Elvis col­lec­tors would still pay far more for it than an Arnold collector!)

This type of pro­duc­tion error usu­ally at­tracts more at­ten­tion from more col­lec­tors and will fetch a healthy price in an open auction.


Elvis Army 1960 1 ThumbsUp1500

HEADER IMAGE: By the time of his mus­tering out of the US Army in March 1960, Pfc. Presley had ad­vanced up the ranks and dis­plays the three stripes of a sergeant on his sleeve. By this time, his en­tire ’50s cat­alog had been reis­sued as part of RCA Vic­tor’s Gold Stan­dard Se­ries of 45 rpm singles.


Elvis 1957 goldsuit standup 1000

POST­SCRIP­TU­ALLY, “The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 1 (Fore­word)” is the first of a planned eight ar­ti­cles ad­dressing the com­plete run of Gold Stan­dard sin­gles as col­lec­table records. When it is com­pleted, I will in­clude a list of the ar­ti­cles with hy­per­links here at the bottom of each ar­ticle for easy access.

Now, here are all the ar­ti­cles on the Elvis Gold Stan­dard 45s listed in the sug­gested reading order:

1. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 1 (Fore­word)
2. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 2 (Com­pany Sleeves)
3. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 3 (1958–1965)
4. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 4 (1964)
5. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 5 (1965-1968)
6. Those Bloody Rare Or­ange Label Gold Stan­dard 45s
7. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 6 (1969)
8. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 7 (1969–1976)
9. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 8 (1976–2000)



1   The ab­bre­vi­a­tion EP stands for ex­tended play, just as LP was an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for long play. A 45 rpm EP ex­tended the playing time of a normal 45 rpm single from one track per side to two or more tracks per side. The state­ment by RCA on their Gold Stan­dard Se­ries EPs con­fused some record buyers that EP was an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of economy package.

As col­lec­tables, they have only a nom­inal value: copies in VG+ or better con­di­tion can usu­ally be found on the In­ternet for around $10. This usu­ally means that the supply is con­sid­er­ably greater than the de­mand, which may in­di­cate that the records sold mod­er­ately well in the ’50s.

2   Note that RCA brags of “Re­pro­cessing by the latest recording tech­niques has en­hanced the sound of these orig­inal per­for­mances.” Was this the com­pa­ny’s first use of the term re­pro­cessing to refer to messing with the sound of master tapes? Of course, the term re­processed would be­come syn­ony­mous with ghastly fake stereo when RCA brought that into the in­dustry in 1961. That, too, is an­other topic for an­other time.

3   Did you know that the pied in pied piper is an ad­jec­tive meaning “of two or more colors in blotches” and refers to the magic mu­si­cian’s motley at­tire, not his dessert preferences?

4   Large num­bers of clean-cut white kids buying un­couth black music were some­thing new in the mar­ket­place. Black mu­si­cians had been mod­i­fying dance music for years, heading to­wards a sim­pler music with a back beat, you can’t lose it, any old time you use it.

Were they leading the way and the pres­ence of the emerging white au­di­ence merely co­in­ci­dental? Or were the mu­si­cians re­sponding to the de­mands of the youth (black and white) and giving them easier music to dance to? I dunno . . .

5   And here I mean mes­sage in sev­eral senses, in­cluding that of “the medium is the mes­sage” (Mar­shall McLuhan), which can be ap­plied to both the 45 rpm record and the mi­nus­cule black & white TV sets be­gin­ning to find their place in houses across the country.

6 The term price guide is mis­leading to new col­lec­tors in all fields: projects such as this one should be called ap­prox­i­mate value guides. But of course, they won’t be­cause that phrase ain’t sexy—it lacks zest appeal!

7   If you were to use the values as­signed here as es­ti­mates for the value of your col­lec­tion for the sake of en­suring that col­lec­tion, then use the mid-range number in each spread. For an as­signed value of $15-30, use $22.50.


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