hand-painted poster for elvis concert in 1956

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

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: photo of Elvis on a make-shift stage somewhere in Texas in early 1956.
This is a photo of Elvis on stage in Texas in 1956. If it’s sup­posed to be Mu­nic­ipal Au­di­to­rium, why is he standing on a dinky car-hauled stage in­stead of that mag­nif­i­cent stage in the photo at the top of this page?

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.


This is the hand-painted poster for Elvis' performance at Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas, on April 15, 1956.
This is the hand-painted poster for Elvis’ per­for­mance at Mu­nic­ipal Au­di­to­rium in San An­tonio, Texas, on April 15, 1956.

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

Hand-painted poster: Opera being performed on stage at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas, at an unknown time.

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. 

Hand-painted poster: Elvis in his gold suit in 1957.Postscriptually

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 . . .



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