HMV Meets RCA Victor (rare HMV sheet music)
By Ger Rijff
With the release of Alan White‘s excellent book Elvis Presley HMV Worldwide Discography last year, many a collector could feast his eyes on a superb collection of HMV sheet music. Many titles featured in print for the first time since their original release dates, back in the 1950’s.
In this article we present the rarest of the HMV sheet music and some nice vintage HMV ads.
To conclude this article, we have an ultra rare RCA Victor promotional flyer for Hound Dog (to the right) and the RCA USA equivalent of the sheet music for this song (below).
CHRIS GILES owns most of the rare HMV sheets presented in this article. Our thanks go out to him for the willingness to share his collection on Echoes.
Thanks also to HARRY CARRIGAN for sharing his knowledge.
Copies of Alan’s book are still available at:
THE ELVIS SHOP LONDON
Great images guys.
Good to have them all in lovely clear scans.
Great work – Thanks for the acknowledgement – Honourable behaviour in these download and rip-off days is very good to see. Keep up the good work, it is very much appreciated. Take care. Harry
Hi Harry! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you wanna share your stories and photos with
us here on Echoes. Ive always enjoyed your stuff a lot. I have a question with regards
to the UK Topps gum/trading cards. So far, nobody has come up with an answer. Not
even the great Mr. Giles… Did the cards come in wrappers, like in the U.S.? One fan
has suggested the cards were sold in little plastic see-through bags that held the gum,
and one or more cards, available from vendor machines, placed in or outside candy
shops circa 1958-9…? Up to now, Ive never ever seen a UK printed Elvis Topps wrapper?
Hi Ger – Thanks for the offer to submit items for you site – I’ll think about it!
As for the UK wrapper for the bubble gum cards – I’ve never seen one, Here is an extract from an article from a magazine the specialises in Topps and A&BC cards that should answer your question. – Hope it helps
“In 1956 Topps in the USA, released the 66 card Elvis set in 1¢ and 5¢ packs under the pseudo name Bubbles, Inc. Anxious to expand distribution and after several years of negotiation, Topps licensed the card set to A&BC Gum Company to be manufactured and distributed in the UK. At that time (the late 50s), A&BC was not producing larger “baseball size” cards with gum slabs, wrappers and packs as was typical in the US. They lacked the technology to do so and the process was considered quite expensive. Smaller A&BC cards were issued in tobacco packets or food packages and beginning in 1958, their larger cards were issued using A&BC owned gumball machines. You inserted a pence or two coin into the machine at your neighborhood card/candy store and out came a card and a gumball. But A&BC had mechanical problems with their machines and soon after their Elvis set was released (in 1959), A&BC sold their gumball/card machines to The Master Vending Company who in short order went bankrupt. Soon thereafter, A&BC began manufacturing and distributing their larger cards in gum packs. As such, and given the method of distribution, there are no known wrappers or packs for the A&BC UK “sister set” of the US ’56 Elvis card set. Because A&BC used a slightly different manufacturing process than in the States, the UK cards are just a bit larger (95mm x 67mm) than their US counterpart (88mm x 64mm). In late 1958, A&BC moved their manufacturing facility from Cricklewood to Colindale in North London. At the time (as the story goes), given the new relocated manufacturing facility, there was concern about the quality of the A&BC Elvis cards, especially the Elvis image on the front. Whether these were concerns of the Topps brass, the A&BC brass or the printer is lost to history. In any event, prior to the release of the A&BC cards, several runs of the Elvis images with blank backs were printed as proof sets. These cards were machine cut for examination”.
Harry, thanks grandiosa for posting the information! Finally, after all these years wondering about the UK cards wrapper the mystery is solved. You’re an Ace!
You, Jans, Niels, and half a dozen other Elvis detectives made Too Much Monkey
a joy to visit…in the old days. Bob and I have plenty of topics lined up for the times to
come. No shortage of material for us to worry about… I feel your material will get
better exposure and lay out over here than elsewhere. You’re more than welcome,
whenever you feel the time is there, to reach a more specialised crowd.
And once again, thanks for your help.
Great site Ger and Bob, let me know if you need anything HMV or UK, Alan White.
Great stuff! Love anything to do with HMV … why is it they always use the same photo for some of the sheet music?
Same photo = money!
Either that or that is all the mad Dutchman (not Ger) supplied them with.
They probably had the attitude “keep costs down, they will buy it anyway”. Printing wasn‘t cheap in the 50‘s ..
Yes, I agree with “keep the costs down” policy, mentioned above
by Jim. By using the same photo for half a dozen different songtitles,
the engraver at the printing plant had only one ‘mother’ cliché to
make instead of 6 different ones. That way all 6 different song sheets
could be printed in black, in only one go.
An additional color ( Red, Green, etc) was added during a 2nd print
The Sun publicity stills from 1954-55, used on many of the HMV &
RCA sheet music titles, popped up countless times in the press
during ’56. “Why bother to make new engravings of different photos
when we can use the old ones again and again?”
By the early 60s this “save money” policy by the music industry and
printed press, hadn’t changed one bit. The use of a couple of Beatles
shots from 1963 would be in your face a hundred times during the
early to mid sixties… It wasn’t just Elvis his manager and record company
being cheap bastards, they ALL were!
Thanks for the replies. Nice info.
Stiill, one thing thas has puzzled me for a long
time…Why was his most famous pose, the world over,
from his first album, only used once, on a RCA sheet music:
“Don’t Be Cruel” ?!
Or have I overlooked one or two titles on RCA or HMV?
Any comments, guys?
I have a South African sheet for All Shook Up, which has the same pic as the US Don’t Be Cruel, to which, afake Elvis signature and “greeting to all my friend in South Africa” has been added before printing.
Still the best site for rare Elvis records and memorabilia, keep up the good work.
Good news for a future update: I found a full color HMV Elvis ad from the UK not
seen yet on Alan’s page, neither have I seen it posted by Mr. Giles as of yet. It’ll
be in the mail off to you soon, Bob… Nice the way you have changed the
presentation of the HMV material in this topic. Keep kickin’ sh.t, Bob!
Since I wrote the piece quoted by Harry about the lack of a wrapper for the ’56 Elvis A&BC UK “sister set” of the USA Topps set. I may as well add a few comments.
I based my conclusion about the UK cards being sold in gumball machines from the following pieces of information: a) interviews of people who actually bought the cards from gum ball machines in the UK in the late 50s; b) the fact that US gumball machines vended the Topps version of the cards in that an image exists of the machine displaying the Elvis cards visible in the window. The price of a card from that machine was 1 cent, not one pence…so we know that US cards, at least, were also distributed in these machines as well as in wax packs (you can see an image of that machine in the Echoes article about the Story of the ’56 Elvis set); c) that from all research done, it appears that at the time of the UK release , A&BC didn’t have the manufacturing capabilities to create gum/card packs with wrappers ; d) virtually all A&BC cards of that size at that time were distributed in gumball machines and finally e) no A&BC wrapper for this popular set has ever been seen. Also never seen (to my knowledge) is an image of a UK gumball machine (or the machine itself for that matter ) that vended these cards although this may not be at all conclusive if Elvis cards allegedly being vended are not visible in the machine display window as is the case with the US machine.
Enough trivia for now.
I wanted to add some Elvis Song Sheets to my Elvis UK vinyl site from the internet and found some on printerest. I think some of them are from here and didn’t want to use without permission.
My site is not for commercial use, it’s only for collecting. I would gladly credit and add links to this site.