HAND-PAINTED POSTERS ARE UNIQUE, even if several are produced for the same event. Even though each poster appears identical, each is one of a kind. The poster below was created in 1956 and it is probably safe to say that only a few were made and most were probably destroyed or re-used after the event.
In this case, the event was an appearance by Elvis Presley at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas, on April 15, 1956. Presley was appearing “direct from the Jackie Gleason Stage Show,” where he had made his first national television appearances during the previous three months.
This hand-painted poster is a really rare Elvis artifact and a one-of-a-kind collectible.
Presley was hot as the proverbial smoking pistol at this time, riding the success of two hit singles: I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train was a double-sided hit that had topped the national country & western charts while Heartbreak Hotel was just a few weeks shy of topping that chart plus the pop charts plus the rhythm & blues charts!
Two weeks before the San Antonio show, Presley had again appeared on television, this time on the much more popular and widely-viewed Milton Berle Show. San Antonio was one of six cities he would visit in April 1956.
The poster below was apparently made for this one show. There is not a lot I can say about it as such an artifact is outside my normal areas of expertise.
Hand-painted poster in Texas
Along with the most talked-about new personality in the last ten years of recorded music, the Farmer Boys, Wanda Jackson, and Hank Locklin also appeared on a bill geared to country & western music fans.
In his review of the show that appeared in The San Antonio Express the next day, Gerald Ashford was essentially positive:
“His stage act consists in equal part of singing, guitar playing and dancing, the whole being classified, if it can be classified at all, in the ‘rock and roll’ category. To an adult ear, all his songs sound pretty much alike, but he puts them over with tremendous verve and vitality, and keeps it up steadily for nearly an hour without visible signs of fatigue. Perhaps because of his youth, he shows no signs of nervous tension or need for rest that is common to older performers who put forth even half as much energy.”
This quote and several others can be found in “In April 1956 San Antonio Saw Presleymania in Bloom” on the Elvis History Blog. To read those other reviews, click here.
The Avid Record Collector
The first auction that I found for this item took place in 2009. The Gotta Have Rock And Roll site offered it with a minimum bid of $5,000. For its condition,m they noted:
“Painted on a 3/8‑inch thick deep brown masonite-like composition board, the 8 x 28.25-inch hand-painted poster is in remarkable condition. It exhibits some surface friction blemishes and scratches along with edge nicks and corner wear. ”
It did not sell. To see that auction, click here.
In 2010, this same item turned up for sale on the Julien’s Auctions website (the stripe of paint at the bottom of the Julien image is identical to the one on the Gotta Have Rock And Roll site). It sold for $2,187.50. To see that auction, click here.
Except for that stripe of dirty paint along the bottom, this poster looks like the kind of advertisement that would have appeared in a newspaper. In fact, it did! Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley Pages has a collection of newspaper ads from 1956, some from Texas. To see those ads, click here.
The article “In April 1956 San Antonio Saw Presleymania in Bloom” on the Elvis History Blog includes a scan of another, similar-looking piece of advertising that could be a second hand-painted poster or a newspaper ad or a paper flyer handed out on the streets of San Antone. To see that scan, click here.
Again, there is not a lot I can say about this item. I do have an opinion: the winning bid of $2,187.50 seems like a steal for such an interesting and unique piece of Elvis’ history.
Should you have any information about this or any other hand-painted poster for an Elvis event, please contact me via the comments section below.hand-painted poster for elvis concert in 1956 Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from this photo of an undated performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata at the Municipal Auditorium. I found this photo in the article “Municipal Auditorium was a go-to venue” by Deborah Martin for The San Antonio Express-News in 2015.
If this item ever comes up for sale again, I would be interested in buying it. As such an item was almost certainly never copyrighted and since it does not bear a likeness to Elvis, I could probably safely make copies of this poster and sell them at an affordable price to fellow Elvis fans. Now all I have to do is pay attention to current auctions on the internet . . .
Mystically liberal Virgo enjoys long walks alone in the city at night in the rain with an umbrella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig who strives to live by the maxim, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a college dropout (twice!). Occupationally, I have been a bartender, jewelry engraver, bouncer, landscape artist, and FEMA crew chief following the Great Flood of ’72 (and that was a job that I should never, ever have left).
I am also the final author of the original O’Sullivan Woodside price guides for record collectors and the original author of the Goldmine price guides for record collectors. As such, I was often referred to as the Price Guide Guru, and—as everyone should know—it behooves one to heed the words of a guru. (Unless, of course, you’re the Beatles.)