RCA VICTOR SPD-15, a collection of ten untitled records, were known only by their group catalog number for decades. The ten 45 rpm extended-play (EP) records contain forty tracks by ten country artists, including four by Elvis Presley. The records were made for jukeboxes and are now incorrectly referred to as the “Jukebox Promotion Kit.”
Before proceeding with this article, please read “Was SPD-15 The First EP Album To Feature An Elvis Track?” That article gives an in-depth look at the set of SPD-15 records.
This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56.
Unlike most of the sets of seven-inch records that RCA Victor made during this time, SPD-15 was apparently shipped without a custom box. Or, at least, no one had ever found a box for this set of EPs.
And then a miracle occurred: a box was found!
The box was titled “Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit,” which seems appropriate given the content of the records in SPD-15 and the intent of RCA Victor in manufacturing them.
This title is now how some collectors refer to SPD-15 but I am not among them.
Read on and find out why.
Jukebox vs. juke box
In 2014, an auction on eBay advertised an incomplete SPD-15 set that included a then-unknown box. The wording of the advertisement referred to the box simply as “the box,” which made the seller appear oblivious to the fact that boxes for SPD-15 were not known to exist!
And not only was there now a box for SPD-15, but the box had a title: “Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit.” But three things about the auction made my Spidey-sense tingle:
1. A weird spelling on the box’s cover.
2. A blurred photo of the box.
3. A false use of data in the description of the item.
First, the cover promotes “40 Jukebox Tunes.” In the ’50s, the record industry uniformly spelled that one word as two—juke boxes. I searched a few dozen issues of Billboard and Cash Box from those years and it was always spelled as two words. I don’t know when the two words were contracted into one, but it wasn’t in the ’50s.
Jukebox Promotion Kit
Second, the photo used in the ad was an itty-bitty image of the box. Even with the zoom option utilized, the enlarged image wasn’t big enough nor sharp enough to make out the detail. Plus, when the image was enlarged, it appeared that it was a blurred photo, to begin with. This is hardly the type of image that I expect to see in an auction for a collectible item that is potentially worth thousands of dollars.
Third, in a description of the item, the seller quoted passages from the book Jukeboxes: An American Social History by Kerry Segrave. The seller claimed that the reader would find the following statement on page 239 of that book:
“Within two weeks of announcing its campaign, Billboard had received more than 1,100 direct requests from various members of the industry for promotional kits. Those were in addition to more than 7,500 kits mailed already to top operators, associations, and disk jockeys at the start of the campaign.”
The seller intended potential buyers to accept that the 7,500 kits in Seagrave’s statement referred to SPD-15. I copied the two sentences and pasted them into my browser. This took me to the article “Operators, Manufacturers Set Anniversary Promotion Drive” on page 172 of the May 23, 1953, issue of Billboard.
And that is where those sentences first appeared, two years before SPD-15 was manufactured. Meaning that quote had nothing to do with SPD-15.
What did all this crap mean?
I didn’t know but my Spidey-sense was tingling all over now!
Yet more boxes
Despite the oddities noted above, the item received thirty bids and sold for $2,343. Should we assume that none of the bidders did any research on the box, including something as simple as tracking the statement about 7,500 kits? Or was something else more nefarious going on that set off my Spidey-sense?
If one copy of a supposedly non-existent item turning up wasn’t suspicious enough, in 2016, a second box showed up. This one sold for only $590.
In 2017, yet another box appeared, this time selling for a mere $159.
Popsike has not listed any more sales of this box since has listed one sale of a reproduction of the box’s cover!
Well, my Spidey-sense’s tingling appears to have been accurate: a few months before I was even aware of this box, the Elvis Records website posted a “Fake alert” about it. In the alert, webmaster Paul Combs pointed out something that I hadn’t noticed: the jukebox on the cover of the box is a Rock-Ola 1493 Princess, a model that wasn’t manufactured until 1962, six years after the box was supposed to have been made!
I don’t know much about jukeboxes but I should have noticed that the first few letters of the word “STEREOPHONIC” appear on the plastic window on the front of the machine on the box’s cover.
Try this: Enlarge and view the image of the box above and then check the photo of the 1493 Princess in the Featured Image below).
So, the Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit box is a fairly recent fake made up to cheat buyers.
So, the discovery of a super-rare Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit box is “fake news” because the box is a fairly recent fake intended to cheat buyers.
Unfortunately, unlike eBay, Posike does not allow us to look at all the bids on an auction. Given the oddities in the item and in the advertisement noted above, it makes me wonder if some of the bidders were shills there to drive the price of the fake item up, up, and away . . .
FEATURED IMAGE: I found this photo of a 1962 model of the Rock-Ola 1493 Princess jukebox on the Games Room Company website. It appears to be for sale with an asking price of £12,000 (approximately $14,255). Aside from a few photos, the Games Room people describe the item as “Manufactured by jukebox giant Rock-Ola, the Princess is the smallest free-standing visible mechanism machine ever produced.” For more information on this jukebox, check out their website.
The first fourteen articles in this series are almost completed and listed below with links to each. Should you access one of these articles and receive an Error Page, try back a week later.
01 RCA Victor’s “SPD” Series of Specialty Records
02 What Was the First Elvis Record That RCA Victor Released?
03 The Biggest Country & Western Record News of 1955
04 The First RCA Elvis Record Was “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”
05 The RCA Victor Cartoon Picture Sleeves of the ’50s
06 The Elvis “This Is His Life” Cartoon Picture Sleeve
07 RCA Victor 47–6357 Bootleg Picture Sleeves
08 The “Record Bulletin” Picture Sleeve for RCA’s First Elvis Record Is a Fake
09 Did RCA Release Other Versions of Elvis’ Songs to Compete With Elvis’ Records?
10 A New Kind of Hit Re-run With Elvis Presley
11 Was “E‑Z Pop Programming 5” the First LP to Feature an Elvis Track?
12 Was “E‑Z Country Programming 2” the First LP to Feature an Elvis Track?
13 Was SPD-15 the First EP to Feature an Elvis Track?
14 Is the Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit a Fake?
More articles addressing the early RCA Victor releases are planned. Each will contain the blockquote, “This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56,” like the one at the beginning of this article.
To find all the articles in the series, copy the blockquote, paste it into the Find option (the magnifying glass in the navigation bar at the top of each page), and then press Return or Enter on your keyboard.
Finally, thanks to the following for their input on some or all of these articles:
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.)