Elvis Army 6 BMW507 1 1500

the elvis presley gold standard 45s part 2 (company sleeves)

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, the powers-that-be at RCA Victor de­cided that the record­ings that Elvis Presley la­bored over in the studio were not up to snuff. You know, the ones that sold a ba­jil­lion copies and al­most single-handedly jus­ti­fied the in­ven­tion of the 45 rpm single as a medium. Ap­par­ently, some of those record­ings simply were not good enough tech­ni­cally to pre­serve on a 33⅓ rpm LP album.

Starting in 1959 with the com­pi­la­tion al­bums FOR LP FANS ONLY and A DATE WITH ELVIS, many of these sides were re­mas­tered by RCA en­gi­neers. This in­cluded but was not lim­ited to boosting the low and high ends, adding echo to Pres­ley’s voice, and moving the lead vocal for­ward.

Thus began a pat­tern of dis­re­spect for their number one seller of records, a pat­tern that lasted throughout the singer’s life and decades af­ter­ward.

 

This is part 2 of the most com­plete discog­raphy and ac­cu­rate price guide to Elvis’ Gold Stan­dard 45s on the In­ternet.

 

In the early ’60s, the RCA’s patented method of achieving a stereo ef­fect was known as elec­tron­i­cally re­processed stereo. The abuse that it put the orig­inal mono sig­nals through was such that the term is often used by au­dio­philes as a four-letter word, or ac­com­pa­nied by a four-letter word.

Nonethe­less, them was the facts of life then, and so it was that many of us grew up with the doc­tored ver­sions en­grained in our nog­gins as the real thing. 1

 

The first 100,000 or so copies of a record like Playing For Keeps / Too Much would be is­sued with a pic­ture sleeve like the one above. (And note which title the sleeve places first and there­fore as the pre­sumed fea­tured A-side.)

An interesting anecdote

Way back in 1970, I be­came aware (fi­nally!) of the fact that the tapes used to make Elvis Presley 45s were copies of the orig­inal tapes used in the ’50s. I don’t re­member the source of this new in­for­ma­tion on Elvis sin­gles, but I do re­member trucking on down to Public Square Records, where I knew that the owner John had a ton of old in­ven­tory stashed in the back.

He brought out sev­eral boxes of Elvis sin­gles and said, “Buy ten or more and you can have them for 69¢ apiece.”

So I did.

These were all Gold Stan­dard Se­ries 45s and in­cluded older black label records and the cur­rent red la­bels. These records were in an as­sort­ment of RCA Victor sleeves along with the ubiq­ui­tous plain white sleeves.

 

After the ini­tial ship­ment of Too Much / Playing For Keeps, the rest of the 45s—hundreds of thou­sands or even millions—would have been shipped in ei­ther com­pany sleeves or plain sleeves. While brown and tan sleeves were often used in the ’50s, bleached white paper sleeves be­came the in­dustry stan­dard.

Company sleeves are not picture sleeves

Among record col­lec­tors, the terms fac­tory sleeves, man­u­fac­turers sleeves, and com­pany sleeves are syn­ony­mous. They refer to sleeves man­u­fac­tured by record com­pa­nies here and abroad that iden­ti­fied the record within as com­pany product without spec­i­fying what the in­di­vidual record was.

These sleeves were made of an in­ex­pen­sive, un­fin­ished paper stock and com­pa­nies had enor­mous quan­ti­ties man­u­fac­tured in a single order. Bulk or­dering dras­ti­cally re­duced unit prices to a frac­tion of a cent per sleeve.

Such a huge in­ven­tory usu­ally meant that stock­piles often sat for years after the com­pany changed its sleeve de­sign (logo, color, data, etc.). Of course, the over­lap­ping of old sleeve de­signs with new was common. This was es­pe­cially so for the largest com­pa­nies, such as Co­lumbia and RCA Victor, whose or­ders for such sleeves could be in the mil­lions!

It is im­por­tant to note that pic­ture sleeves are very dif­ferent from com­pany sleeves: each pic­ture sleeve fea­tured an image (usu­ally a pic­ture of the recording artist) along with the record’s ti­tles and cat­alog num­bers. Al­most all pic­ture sleeves were man­u­fac­tured specif­i­cally for a par­tic­ular record.

Se­rious col­lec­tors want each of their Gold Stan­dard sin­gles in the ‘cor­rect’ sleeve of its time of re­lease. So, the list below in­cludes each of the sleeve de­signs that RCA’s Gold Stan­dard Se­ries records have used since the se­ries’ in­cep­tion in 1958.

This list and the il­lus­tra­tions in this se­ries of ar­ti­cles will as­sist you in finding which sleeve matches which pressing of each of the Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard Se­ries 45s in your col­lec­tion.

  

1958–1965

Company sleeve design 1

This is the com­pany sleeve that first ap­peared with the orig­inal Gold Stan­dard re­leases in late 1958. There­fore, it is the most im­por­tant sleeve to any Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard col­lec­tion, as every GS 45 in your col­lec­tion from 1958 through 1965 (447-0600 through at least 447-0624) should be ac­com­pa­nied by one of these sleeves!

 

Every GS 45 in your col­lec­tion from 1958–1965 should be in a de­sign 1 com­pany sleeve.

 

There are two vari­a­tions on this sleeve, which may in­di­cate dif­ferent printers that RCA hired, or the dif­fer­ence may have oc­curred over time:

•  On one sleeve, the top is cut straight across on both the front (top image above).

•  On an­other sleeve, the top has a notch cut into the front (middle image above).

•  The back of each vari­a­tion is the same for both (bottom image above). 3

For per­fec­tion­ists, this sleeve and only this sleeve should be used with 45s with black la­bels with “RCA Victor” at the top. This sleeve over­laps with and there­fore can be rea­son­ably used with GS 45s with black la­bels with “RCA Victor” on the side.

It was pos­sible to find var­ious press­ings of Gold Stan­dard records from the ’50s and ’60s in these sleeves into the ’70s.

  

1965–1973

 Company sleeve design 2

This sleeve de­sign came into play some­time in the early to mid-’60s. As RCA made a major change in the de­sign of their record labels—moving “RCA Victor” and Nipper from above the top to the sides—it is as­sumed that the change in the com­pany sleeves (both cat­alog and Gold Stan­dard re­leases) oc­curred around the same time.

 

Every GS 45 in your col­lec­tion from 1965–1973 should be in a de­sign 2 com­pany sleeve.

 

If that as­sump­tion is cor­rect, we can as­sume that they were in­tended to ac­com­pany those GS ti­tles is­sued from 1965 into the early ’70s. There­fore, every Elvis GS 45 in your col­lec­tion from 1965 through 1973 (447-0625 through at least 447-0685) should be ac­com­pa­nied by one of these sleeves!

There are two vari­a­tions on this sleeve, which may in­di­cate dif­ferent printers that RCA hired, or the dif­fer­ence may have oc­curred over time:

•  On one sleeve, the paper on the in­side is yellow (bottom image above).

•  On another sleeve, the paper on the in­side is white (middle image above).

•  The back of each vari­a­tion is the same for both (bottom image above).

It was pos­sible to find var­ious press­ings of Gold Stan­dard records from the ’50s and ’60s in these sleeves into the ’70s. For per­fec­tion­ists, this sleeve should be used with:

•  All GS 45s with black la­bels with “RCA Victor” on the right side.

•  All GS 45s with or­ange la­bels.

•  All GS 45s with red la­bels through at least 447-0685.

This sleeve over­laps with and there­fore can be rea­son­ably used with 45s with red la­bels in the GB-10000 se­ries and 45s with black la­bels with only “RCA” at the top.

  

1974–1975

Company sleeve design 3

This sleeve was in­tro­duced in 1974 and was shipped with the later red label num­bers. This de­sign was used very briefly (little more than a year) and these sleeves are rather hard to find.

For per­fec­tion­ists, this sleeve only should be used with GS 45s with red la­bels in the GB-10000 se­ries.

This sleeve over­laps with and there­fore can be rea­son­ably used with ear­lier red label records and those with black la­bels with only “RCA” at the top.

 

1976–1988

Company sleeve design 4

This sleeve was in­tro­duced in 1976 along with the new black label with only “RCA” at the top. This sleeve was shipped with these records and count­less red label records. It lasted until 1989.

As a rule of thumb, this only sleeve should be used with 45s with black la­bels with only “RCA” at the top, and it can be rea­son­ably used with GS 45s with red la­bels.

  

1989–1993

Company sleeve design 5(a)

This sleeve was in­tro­duced in 1989 and was shipped with the new black label (with only “RCA” at the top) num­bers. It can be found in two colors—a yellow-gold and a burnt-gold.

This sleeve should only be used with GS 45s with black la­bels with only “RCA” at the top.

  

1994–2000

Company sleeve design 5(b)

This sleeve was in­tro­duced in 1994 and shipped with the new black label num­bers. The only sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence be­tween 5(a) and 5(b) is that Nipper was in­creased in size and move from a po­si­tion of in­signif­i­cance in the lower right corner to the more promi­nent spot just below the die-cut window.

This sleeve should only be used with GS 45s with black la­bels with only “RCA” at the top.

  

Elvis Army 6 BMW507 1 1500

HEADER IMAGE: While as­signed to the 3rd Ar­mored Di­vi­sion in Ger­many in 1958, Elvis met hill-climb ace Hans Stuck, who was racing a ’57 BMW 507 at Au­to­drome de Linas-Montlhéry in France. Presley was smitten with the 150-hp droptop and leased it that De­cember.

The car was orig­i­nally Feather White, but Pvt. Presley quickly tired of fe­male fans scrawling their phone num­bers in lip­stick across its hood and fenders and it re­painted Porsche Red. Only 253 BMW 507s were ever made, and Elvis owned two of them. (Adapted lib­er­ally from Road & Track)

 

POSTSCRIPTUALLY, for “The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 2” you should keep in mind that Gold Stan­dard records were also shipped in plain white and some­times brown paper sleeves. Finding them in those sleeves is normal and a per­fectly ac­cept­able way to house them in your col­lec­tion.

Un­less, of course, you are a per­fec­tionist.

Er­ling Mehl’s 45-Sleeves web­site was very useful in fig­uring the chrono­log­ical break­down of the sleeves above. He goes into much more de­tail than I do here, so a visit to his site will be re­warding.

WARNING: A small com­pany in Eng­land is printing re­pro­duc­tions of early RCA com­pany sleeves to as­sist col­lec­tors in housing their records in ap­pro­priate sleeves. At this time, none of the Gold Stan­dard sleeves have been re­pro­duced, but that could change in the fu­ture.

Fi­nally, such things as cor­rec­tions, ad­di­tions, sug­ges­tions, and even the oc­ca­sional dis­pu­ta­tion are wel­come and that’s why Wholly Grom­mett con­vinced Word­Press to in­clude a Com­ments sec­tion below …

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

1The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 1 (Fore­word)
2The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 2 (Com­pany Sleeves)
3. The Elvis Presley Gold Stan­dard 45s Part 3 (1958–1965)
4The 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)

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   In­for­ma­tion of this kind was not only not easy to come by in the pre-Internet re­ality, it was often simply gone. Those who knew better had re­tired or had no po­si­tion from which to make such things known to fans and col­lector.

2   I placed ‘res­cued’ in semi-quotation marks be­cause, de­spite the 14-feet of pol­luted river water reaching into the second floor of my building, and de­spite the build­ings around me in flames (I lived be­hind the scene in the photo above, right where all that black smoke is em­a­nating), de­spite all that I was 20-years old and had enough food and pot to see me through any crises!

As Free­wheelin’ Franklin said, “Dope will get you through times of no dry ground better than dry ground will get you through times of no dope.” (And, no, the paren­the­sized quote is not a bit of Catholic ex­is­ten­tialism.)

3  The notch is re­ferred to as a thumb-groove; it is there for easily re­moving the record from the sleeve.

 

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