is this the holy grail of elvis concert posters?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 minutes.

I PUB­LISHED TWO AR­TI­CLES on Elvis posters from 1956. While re­searching those items, I came across this poster from 1955 with Faron Young at the top of the bill and Elvis at the bottom. Some sources refer to this poster as one of the few Holy Grails in the world of rock & roll posters!

I ac­knowl­edge that I have little ex­per­tise in his­tor­ical or col­lectible posters. I wrote the ar­ti­cles be­cause these spe­cific items could be of in­terest to col­lec­tors of Elvis records, an area where I do have some expertise.

It’s stun­ning to find one of the most im­por­tant fig­ures of the 20th cen­tury bottom-billed.

I found the top-billed Faron Young poster on the Her­itage Auc­tions web­site and im­me­di­ately found an­other on the Robert Ed­ward Auc­tions site. For­tu­nately, both sites had lengthy de­scrip­tions so I re­lied on their ex­per­tise (and their words) to de­scribe this poster. 

The poster is a card­board “window card” ap­prox­i­mately 14 x 22 inches in size. It is a “boxing-style” poster that ad­ver­tises a country-music con­cert in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee for Feb­ruary 6, 1955.

The poster notes the in­clu­sion of “Mem­phis’ Own Elvis Presley” and noted Scotty Moore and Bill Black. It also stated that “He’ll Sing ‘Heart­beaker’ – ‘Milk Cow Boogie’,” somehow messing up both ti­tles, Milkcow Blues Boogie and You’re A Heart­breaker.

 

 

Holy Grail: poster for a concert in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 21, 1956.
This is a poster for a per­for­mance by Elvis Presley and the Jor­danaires in the singer’s home­town of Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. Held on Jan­uary 21, 1956, it is a fine ex­ample of a fairly typ­ical pop music poster from the ’50s using a toned photo and two colors against a white backdrop.

Memphis’ own Elvis Presley

But first, a little country & western his­tory. By the time of this con­cert, top-billed Faron Young had four Top 10 hits on the na­tional country charts ex­tending into the ’70s. The poster notes “If You Ain’t Lovin,” which was the first half of the title of his most re­cent hit If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’).

Second on the bill is Martha Carson, noted as the “Beau­tiful Gospel Singer” on the poster. Carson was pri­marily known as a gospel singer with a rather com­pli­cated pro­fes­sional ca­reer that kept her from recording for sev­eral years.

Next came Ferlin Huskey (and that is how his name was spelled on his early records), who was riding high with his fourth Top 10 country hit. The poster notes The Hush­pup­pies, which was the name of Huskey’s band.

In the fourth spot on the bill were the Wilburn Brothers (Doyle and Teddy), who had had their first hit the year before.

 

Holy Grail: poster for a concert in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 6, 1955.
This copy of the “Mem­phis’ Own Elvis Presley” poster from Feb­ruary 6, 1956 (image 1) is in the orig­inal con­di­tion in which it was found. It sold as is for $34.800 in 2006.

This is one of the few Holy Grails

Here is an abridged ver­sion of what the Robert Ed­ward Auc­tions ex­pert had to say about this item in 2006 (slightly mod­i­fied for styl­istic consistency):

“In the eyes of many ad­vanced music his­to­rians and Elvis col­lec­tors, this is the single most sig­nif­i­cant and his­toric of all early Elvis Presley con­cert posters. This is the second ear­liest of all known Elvis posters. But the spe­cial his­tor­ical sig­nif­i­cance of this poster lies in the fact that it was at this very con­cert that Elvis first met Colonel Tom Parker, his leg­endary man­ager and partner, who guided his ca­reer to fu­ture stardom.

The seeds of the fu­ture of rock & roll are rep­re­sented here. This is an on­site relic that tells a story and the story is how Elvis Presley—and rock & roll—came to ex­plode onto the music scene and into the na­tional con­scious­ness, for­ever changing music and pop­ular cul­ture, in America and the en­tire world.

This poster was lit­er­ally a sign­post on the road to the birth of rock & roll. Without this con­cert date, and what tran­spired on that date, the world would be a very dif­ferent place. In the world of rock & roll posters, this is one of the few Holy Grails.”

This text seems rife with hy­per­bole. I don’t know what an “ad­vanced music his­to­rian” nor do I know what an “ad­vanced Elvis col­lector” is. That this is the “single most sig­nif­i­cant and his­toric of all early Elvis Presley con­cert posters” and that it tells a story about “how Elvis Presley and rock & roll came to ex­plode onto the music scene and into the na­tional con­scious­ness” seems a bit much to me.

But, as I said, posters are not an area I claim any ex­per­tise. So this may very well be one of the few Holy Grails in the world of rock & roll posters.

To see the full text, visit this Robert Ed­ward Auc­tions page.

Condition

The poster pic­tured above (image 1) “shows wear, in­cluding some minor staining and a few creases, abra­sions, and tears. While tech­ni­cally in Good con­di­tion, the in­tegrity of the sign re­mains com­pletely in­tact. This poster is in all-original con­di­tion, with no restora­tion whatsoever. 

De­spite the damage, this poster sold for $34,800.

 

 

Holy Grail: poster for a concert in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 6, 1955.
This copy of the “Mem­phis’ Own Elvis Presley” poster from Feb­ruary 6, 1956 (image 2), has been ex­pertly “re­stored” to re­semble the orig­inal con­di­tion in which it was used in the ’50s. It sold as is for $32,500 in 2021.

This is as good as it gets

Here is an abridged ver­sion of what the Her­itage Auc­tions ex­pert had to say about this item in 2021 (slightly mod­i­fied for styl­istic consistency):

“In many re­spects, this is as good as it gets. It’s stun­ning to find one of the most im­por­tant fig­ures of the 20th cen­tury bottom-billed be­fore he had ever touched the Bill­board charts, C&W or oth­er­wise. It’s the second-earliest Elvis Presley con­cert poster known to man (by less than a month).

To have Elvis’s third Sun Records single plugged, to have his gui­tarist and bassist name-checked, and to have the four colors of red, white, blue & brown when every other 50’s Elvis poster was just three colors at best—this window card is a real gem.

No­tice there were two con­certs, at 3:00 & 8:00 PM. Be­tween the shows, Elvis had dinner across the street with Sam Phillips and his fu­ture man­ager, Colonel Tom Parker, in their first-ever formal meeting. How would you like to have been the fourth person in that booth?”

Condition

The poster pic­tured above (image 2) had been quarter-folded and has crease lines plus other sur­face creases. It has “gen­eral toning throughout, with areas of heavy browning in the lower half.” The poster has been re­stored with  the creases “pro­fes­sion­ally min­i­mized through treat­ment, in­cluding light touch-up blue and red color here & there, and the brown at the top.”

Her­itage graded this item as being “re­stored Very Good con­di­tion.” De­spite the damage and restora­tion, this poster sold for $32,500.

To see the full text on the Her­itage Auc­tions page, click here.

 

Holy Grail: poster for a concert in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 10-11, 1956.
By Au­gust 1956, posters an­nounced “The Elvis Presley Show”! This one from Jack­sonville, Florida, is a fine ex­ample of a fairly typ­ical pop music poster from the ’50s using a toned photo and two colors against a white backdrop.

Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide

In 2021, Her­itage sold two copies of this poster: the copy above sold for $32,500 while re­paired copy sold for $27,500.

In 2012, Her­itage sold a dam­aged copy with mul­tiple tears that have been sealed and both bottom cor­ners missing for $11,875.

In 2006, Robert Ed­ward Auc­tions sold the copy above for $34,800.

So, dam­aged copies with or without pro­fes­sional re­pair work sell in the $30,000-35,000 range. I haven’t a clue what a nearly mint copy would sell for. But, hypo­thet­i­cally, if one turned up and if I had the money and if I wanted it, a six-figure bid would be easy to contemplate. 

 

Holy Grail: caricature of Elvis from 1955 by the artist Vizcarra.

FEA­TURED IMAGE: Since the fea­tured image at the top of this page al­ready ap­peared in this ar­ticle above, I am filling this space with a car­i­ca­ture of Elvis. This cool drawing of Elvis in 1956 was done by the artist Viz­carra. I have pub­lished eleven col­lec­tions of Elvis car­i­ca­tures on this blog; to view the first one, click here.

Elvis GoldSuit 1959Postscriptually

Here are links to the three other ar­ti­cles men­tioned at the top of this page:

•  What Was The First All-Elvis Poster?
•  Hand-Painted Poster For Elvis Con­cert In 1956
•  See Him And Hear Him On “Stage Show”

 


 

2 thoughts on “is this the holy grail of elvis concert posters?”

  1. Great ar­ticle, though Elvis-specific.

    With the in­terest in ephemera these days, I’m sur­prised that with the money these make, and to­day’s tech­nology that there aren’t a lot of forg­eries of these posters floating around, being passed off as originals.

    Leigh.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment.

      I do not know enough about the world of col­lecting posters to be aware of forg­eries. There cer­tainly are a lot of re­pro­duc­tions (al­most al­ways iden­ti­fied as such) of pop­ular posters.

      Reply

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