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Be Wary

Collectibles or Fakes?

Buyer and Seller Surprises

Recently I looked at 45 rpm Elvis records at eBay. I browsed through the first two pages of Elvis vinyl singles. Some looked good in the pictures. Some had a brief audio file so the prospective buyer could hear what the actual record sounded like after so many years. There were photos of the record sleeves and the actual record. Only one thing was missing in the first two pages of eBay items.

There were no bids.

If you look in any collector magazine for the record titles, the prices are very high. The value, as perceived by the authors of the collector books, is based on rarity and condition. The price in the book, however, is often not practical if the person who views the item happens not to want it. You will need to place any Elvis record which you want to sell, or collection of Elvis records or memorabilia, in a setting where Elvis collectors are gathered.

If you have an Elvis club or a record buyers gathering on a monthly basis or some regular Elvis appreciation event, you will be more likely to meet real Elvis fans. Look at eBay and see if there are any Elvis vinyl records which are receiving bids right now. Check out the prices for Elvis stamps or clocks or VHS tapes or brochures. It is possible eBay is just not where you will want to buy or sell Elvis memorabilia. I do buy and sell things at eBay, but there seems to be a need for a buyer to see an Elvis record and negotiate with the seller in person for a happy transaction to take place.

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Many "authentic" Elvis items are fakes. There have been attempts to manufacture 45 rpm "Sun" label records that could be passed off as original 1954 or 1955 discs. The old records were not as flexible and most fakes can easily be spotted by the pros. The problem for online outlets like eBay is the counterfeit items do photograph very well. The record sleeves of the RCA recordings can also be duplicated, but experienced sources are usually able to tell which is real and which is fake. Southeby's and Christie's and Butterfield's auction houses have become very sceptical of any Elvis collections being sold by collectors..

There are dishonest claims made by sellers about suits and belts and scarfs once belonging to The King. Sunglasses and jewelry might also be on the list of items that are not really something Elvis wore at some show. If you know the person and can be sure the person did, indeed, know Elvis, you might be buying an authentic Elvis souvenir.

Posters and autographs and documents and any paper product are probably more plentiful as fakes than as real 1950s memorabilia. Today's printing software makes it much easier and cheaper to duplicate some old printed item. Check and see if the paper looks and feels old before you purchase any record sleeve or poster.

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Johnny Cash on Sun Recordings on the Sun label are the rarest of Elvis vinyl. This is Johnny Cash, but it shows not only the real Sun label as it looked, but also this is a very rare look at a Sun sleeve.

Of all collectables the most frequently counterfeited items are Elvis memorabilia. His autograph, even the official autographed letters and pictures, were often forgeries while he was alive. His staff would "autograph" his picture and mail it to a fan. His signature looks different on different documents.

Elvis Items

Elvis; An Original... or a Copy?

Sun Records Label This is a very real Sun recording but not Elvis. You can compare this to an Elvis Sun record to see if it is the same label. Fakes are out there.

If Elvis' autographs are difficult to determine real from fake, it is even more unlikely you will be able to distinguish a lock of his hair or a sweat stained cape that is offered for sale. The ability to test dna does not readily come into the collector's home in an easy kit form. Always beware of the potential for a fake when it comes to an Elvis item.

There are very well documented Elvis items such as 45 and 33 and even 78 rpm records which have lots of age indications. Even unopened shrink wrap from the 1970s will have some signs of aging now that so many years have passed. A yard sale or estate sale is probably a safe source for some vinyl from bygone years. The same is true of the Elvis magazines and bottles and toys which might still be found here and there. I would be very careful if someone has 30 capes and 50 copies of his license plates from his limos.

Be always on the lookout for a real find which has escaped the paws of other collectors. Somewhere in an attic is something Elvis related that belonged to a young girl who is now an old lady. She might have forgot about the autograph she got at a state fair or at some movie location after she put it away for safekeeping and focused on raising a family. He might have signed a bill of sale for a car or a guitar which has been in someone's tax papers or which was left behind when someone had to move. Be watchful for the real thing. It is very possible you will find it. It does happen.

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