By Susan Sliwicki
It’s good to be The King — or at the very least, to collect him.
The prices that Elvis’ fans are happy to pay for his albums, posters and memorabilia show he’s still alive and well in the collectors’ market.
“There’s sort of an expiration date on artists, and I think artists that, let’s say, have their peaks back in the ’50s and ’60s, for them to still be collectible and highly collectible to date is really unusual,” said Jacques van Gool of Backstage Auctions.
Elvis stacks up extremely well with the likes of The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and others, which is impressive when you consider that his roots go back a solid 10 to 15 years before those other artists made it on the scene, van Gool said.
The Beatles probably do outrank Elvis in overall collectibility, largely because The Beatles are a global phenomenon among collectors, while most Elvis collectors are here in the U.S., he said. That said, Elvis is no shrinking violet, particularly when it comes to personally owned pieces, such as one of Elvis’ cars, jumpsuits or autographed pieces.
“You’ll see some mind-blowing numbers when it comes to Elvis, the same types of numbers you’d see for the The Beatles,” van Gool said.
There hasn’t been a lot of change in the Elvis market in the last 10 to 20 years, he said, and the market for Elvis-related collectibles remains strong and steady.
“The fact that they’re still, every year, coming out with new merchandise is a very healthy sign that the market is there,” van Gool said. Toys, calendars, T-shirts, vinyl records, movie posters, books, commemorative plates, DVDs … the list of Elvis-related collectibles is almost endless.
“I know that Graceland draws a lot of people every year, and just about everyone will walk out of there buying something,” van Gool said. “I truly believe that collectors are born in the gift shop. Graceland is very important.”
If you’re wondering where to get the most bang for your Elvis buck, look toward the elite items, where demand far outstrips supply, such as Elvis’ autograph, a piece of his jewelry or clothing, or any of the first five Sun Records singles, van Gool said. Items from the 1950s command the best prices, followed by those from the 1960s and 1970s, he added. Just be careful to choose authenticated items, as everything from Elvis’ jumpsuits his signature have been replicated.
If you’re just getting started collecting Elvis memorabilia, the options for collecting can be overwhelming, as Elvis had so many different eras in his career. The rule of thumb is that items from the 1950s are the most expensive, followed by those from the 1960s and 1970s.
“With Elvis, if you want to start working your ways backwards, start with everything from 1977. When he passed away, there must’ve been 50 different magazine specials and 100 newspapers that wrote about him, and commemorative coins and commemorative everything. That can be a great point to start,” he said. From there, you might want to look at old tour programs or Vegas pieces.
Whatever route, van Gool recommends following a basic rule of thumb.
“I would rather spend $10 on something that’s 30 years old than spend $10 on something that was released yesterday,” van Gool said. “Everything that was released today comes out at a premium, and for the next 10 years, the price will drop.”
For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• People have come to rely on the book on 45 RPM record pricing: “Goldmine® Price Guide to 45 RPM Records, 7th Edition
• Get a Goldmine collective on The Beatles, “Meet the Fab Four CD”
• And click here to check out other record price guides from Goldmine