Skip to content

The Wonderful World Of E.P.E. Memorabilia (1957-61)

 

By Bob Pakes
 
 

EPE 011956 was a magical year in the career of Elvis Presley. He seemed to be all over the place and on everybody’s lips. And not just on everybody’s lips …
We all love to hate the Colonel. But merchandising his client as a ‘brand’ was like striking gold. The commercial success of Elvis Presley Enterprises (E.P.E.) merchandise even outweighed that of Disney and the hugely popular cowboy stars of the day.
 
In this article I will try to bring together all pieces of vintage E.P.E. memorabilia, in the absolute best possible quality. And to make this article easy to navigate and search, I’ve chosen to list these items alphabetically.
Since the collection is so big, it will be presented in two parts. In PART ONE you will find the first 50 items (over 100 images). Enjoy the ride!

 
 

3TO THE LEFT we see the window of a Shoe-Store in 1956, announcing the Elvis Presley products they have for sale, ranging from shoes to hats and gloves.
 
BELOW we have a very interesting article from Billboard magazine (September 29, 1956). This article gives us a perfect insight into how extremely big the merchandise campaign actually was.
The man in charge of it all was Hank Saperstein, whom had already succesfully merchandised The Lone Ranger and Lassie among other brands. Saperstein estimated that the $ 20.000.000 sales mark would be reached before the year was over. At the time the article was published, hundreds of thousands of E.P.E. items had already been sold, and the only problem seemed to be that the production companies could hardly keep up with the skyrocketing demand for Presley merchandise. One of the reasons for the incredible success of the campaign could have been that all the large department stores (including Sears, Woolworth’s, Roebuck and Macy’s) kept stock of the E.P.E. merchandise.
 
In the TWO PHOTOS UNDERNEATH the Billboard article, we can see Saperstein and Elvis (on the set of Love Me Tender) checking out part of the merchandise.
Quite clearly visible are the E.P.E. blue jeans, the felt skirt, bolo tie, bookends and hat.
In the first image we see Elvis holding an E.P.E. belt in his right hand, while he is going through the Elvis Answers Back magazine in the second image.

Billboard 1956-09-29 15

1 2

 
 

212

The complete collection of vintage ELVIS PRESLEY ENTERPRISES memorabilia

PART ONE

212

 
 

Autograph Book | 1956

01 1956 EPE Autograph BookThe artwork and the color chosen for this
Autograph Book, could also be found on the
following E.P.E. products:
* Diary
* Photo Album
* Record Case
* Scrapbook
(all coming up later in this article)

 
 

Belt (leather) | 1956

27 1956 EPE Leather Belt 01 27 1956 EPE Leather Belt 02Here we have the rather cool black Leather Belt.
 
And to the right we see one of at least two different Belt Buckles that were available in 1956.

 
 

Belt (plastic) | 1956

27 1956 EPE Plastic Belt 01 27 1956 EPE Plastic Belt 02 upgradeThese Plastic Belts came in two different styles, and in many different colors. These colors perfectly matched the colors of the Wallets/Purses E.P.E. put out at the same time.

27 1956 EPE Plastic Belt 03

 
 

Binder | 1956

29 1956 EPE Notebook binder 01 29 1956 EPE Notebook binder 02This zippered 3-ring Binder was available in at least three colors.

 
 

Bolo Tie | 1956

10 1956 EPE Bolo TieTwo different styles of a Bolo Tie were
manufactured. The most wellknown had this
framed photo of Elvis, the other one had a guitar.

 
 

Bookends | 1956

26 1956 EPE Bookends 01 26 1956 EPE Bookends 02Apparently a lot of fans did not use these Bookends as …, well, bookends, but rather displayed them as if they were Elvis busts. And why not?
These are not that easy to find nowadays as a pair.

 
 

Bust | 1961

105 1961 EPE Bust 01 105 1961 EPE Bust 02This official Elvis Bust came in two colors, and I believe this is the only E.P.E. product manufactured in 1961 and the last of the vintage E.P.E. merchandise.
 
Notice how the hair is an exact copy of the ’56 Bookends, and especially the sideburns were very much a thing of the past by 1961.

 
 

Diary (one year) | 1956

05 1956 EPE Diary 16 1956 EPE Poodle skirt 02Shown here is the one year version of the Elvis Diary.
It was also available in a three year version.
 
Besides holding the Diary, the girl in the photo is also dressed up in E.P.E. wear (T-Shirt + Skirt) and a Pillow and Scarf are visible as well.

 
 

Dog Tag Jewelry | 1958

200 EPE 1958 Dog Tag Necklace 201 EPE 1958 Dog Tag Key ChainThe copyright date on all the different pieces of Dog Tag merchandise says 1956, but these were actually manufactured in 1958. The tags shown here have Elvis’ army number printed on it.
 
Left we have a Dog Tag Necklace, and right the Dog Tag Key Chain.
 
Below (from top to bottom):
Dog Tag Anklet
Dog Tag Men’s Bracelet
Dog Tag Lady’s Bracelet (with silver chain)
Dog Tag Lady’s Bracelet (with gold chain)

202 EPE 1958 Dog Tag Anklet

203 EPE 1958 Dog Tag Bracelet Men's

204 EPE 1958 Dog Tag Bracelet Lady's (gold)

205 EPE 1958 Dog Tag Bracelet Lady's (silver)

 
 

Doll | 1957

101 1957 EPE Doll with box 101One of the rarest vintage E.P.E. items is this 18 inch tall Elvis Doll.
The materials used to manufacture the doll rather quickly deterioted over time (unless well taken care of), making it the most sought after piece in the original E.P.E. series. Especially in it’s original box, this one is almost impossible to find.
 
The girls in the photo check out a Scrapbook. We can also see the Record Case, plus 1-sheet posters for Love Me Tender and Loving You. While all this time the Elvis Doll is minding his own business in the foreground of this cool picture.

 
 

Eau De Parfum | 1957

104 1957 EPE Teddy Bear Perfume 01 104 1957 EPE Teddy Bear Perfume 02Today, just about every famous entertainer has an own fragrance on the market. But back in 1956 it was kind of special to be able to buy an Elvis Presley Perfume.
 
In the 60′s the Teddy Bear Perfume was updated: the shape of the bottle had changed, and also a new and more recent image of Elvis could now be seen on this product.

 
 

Flasher Pins | 1956

35 1956 EPE Flasher pins 01 35 Billboard 1956-12-22 02 “Elvis Presley in motion” 
 
This Flasher Pin was a cool gadget!
 
The ad the the right is from Billboard (December 22, 1956).
 
Below we see a different Billboard-ad (from December 8, 1956) for the Flasher Pin. And also some clear examples of different images used for this pin, as well as the larger variant, including their back-side. Interesting is also the proof sheet of 9 unused flasher buttons still part of the original thick plastic board.

35 1956 EPE Flasher pins 02 (Billboard 1956-12-08 06) upgrade

 
 

Glass | 1956

22 1956 EPE Glass 01 22 1956 EPE Glass 02You could pour yourself a double shot of Elvis’ love in this official Glass. Or just a diet-coke of course.
Nice item!

 
 

Glass Plate | 1956

23 EPE 1956 Glass plate 23 EPE 1956 Glass plate detailThis Glass Plate matches the E.P.E. Glass.
 
I have never seen an image of this plate in it’s original box, but I’m sure it would be a treat to witness this.

 
 

Glow In The Dark Photo | 1957

102 1957 EPE Glow in the dark photoThis Glow In The Dark Photo would glow for a
couple of hours after the lights went out.
So Elvis Presley would probably be the last thing
on the mind of the teenage girl before she went
to sleep.
 
The image of the sweet looking Elvis was also used
for the E.P.E. Teddy Bear Perfume, while most of
the other merchandise had a rocking or singing
Elvis Presley image.

 
 

Guitar (with case) | 1956

33 1956 EPE Guitar with case 01 33 03One of the most famous E.P.E. products: the Elvis Presley Guitar.
It was available with four and six strings.
A Chord Player (that can be seen in the image to the left) and a small Songbook were included with the package.
 
In the picture to the right we can see that the Carrying Case measured around 3 feet.

33 1956 EPE Guitar with case 02 33 02Here we see two pieces of the guitar in more detail.
The photo to the right was taken on the set of Running Wild. Other pics of this day of Elvis with the E.P.E. guitar exist.

 
 

Handkerchiefs | 1956

30 1956 EPE Handkerchief 01 30 1956 EPE Handkerchief 02Every teenager’s dream:
blow your nose in Elvis.
 
The Handkerchiefs came with different images and in different colors.

 
 

Hat | 1956

20 1956 EPE hat 01 20 1956 EPE hat 02Certainly one of the most popular E.P.E. items, this Hat can be seen in a lot of pictures from those years.
 
To the right we see the hat with the original tag still attached.
The hat was later (in ’57) available with a different tag, this time promoting Loving You.
 
And below we have two nice store-ads, as well as some images from the Welcome Home Elvis shows in Tupelo. Elvis’ girlfriend Barbara Hearn can be seen in the background of the middle picture.

20 1956 EPE hat 03 Barbara

 
 

Headscarf | 1956

32 1956 EPE headscarf 32 Billboard 1956-11-03 05This Headscarf is similar to the regular Scarf (further down in this article) except for it’s shape of course.
 
The ad to the right is from Billboard (November 3, 1956).

 
 

Hot Plate Holder | 1956

25 1956 EPE Ceramic plate 01 25 1956 EPE Ceramic plate 02So, the true fan would eat her dinner in full Elvis-style:
* drink from an Elvis-Glass
* eat from an Elvis-Plate
* use her Elvis-Mittens (not kidding!) to put the hot food on the table using this Hot Plate Holder!
 
Since this 6 by 6 inch ceramic plate came with a hanging mechanism on the back, many a fan would have probably used it as wall-decoration.

 
 

Jacket | 1956

18 1956 EPE Jacket 01 18 1956 EPE Jacket 02If I would have been around in mid 50′s America, THIS would have topped my wantlist (with the black leather belt in second place)! My absolue favourite of all the vintage E.P.E. merchandise.
 
This cool cool Jacket probably did not sell very well in 1956, since it might have been one of the most expensive items in the E.P.E. range. Maybe this is why we hardly ever see this item turn up in auction nowadays (in fact, I only saw it once).

 
 

Jeans | 1956

43 1956 EPE Jeans (tag) 01 43 1956 EPE Jeans (tag) 02From the impossible to find Jacket to the just as impossible to find pair of Blue-Jeans (which were actually black) is just a small step.
 
To the left we see the original tag of the jeans, and to the right we have an ad. But that’s about it. Apart from a low-rez image in one of the collector books, I never saw this pair of jeans on the web anywhere.

 
 

John’s Pocket-Movie Elvis Presley | 1957

107 1957 EPE Flip book 01 107 1957 EPE Flip book 02

Here we have a Flip-Book. If you went through the pages fast, you could see Vince doing part of the Baby, I Don’t Care dance-routine from Jailhouse Rock.
(For the ultimate pleasure: go through the pages backwards!)

 
 

Lipstick | 1956

34 1956 EPE Lipstick color card 34 1956 EPE Lipstick on card

“Keep me always on your lips”
 
The Elvis Presley Lipstick was available in 6 different colors, and they actually came up with some nice names for these, the most interesting is Running Wild Pink since at that stage Running Wild was the title for Elvis’ upcoming new movie (which eventually became Loving You). Ed Sullivan also referred to this movie as Running Wild during Elvis’ final appearance on the show.
 
Below we see one of these lipsticks is full detail.

34 1956 EPE Lipstick fuchsia upgrade

 
 

‘Love Me Tender’ Necklace | 1956

13 1956 EPE Necklace Attached To A Card 01 13 1956 EPE Necklace Attached To A Card 02The Love Me Tender Necklace was manufactured in both silver and gold.
 
Scroll down this article, to the Short-Sleeved T-Shirt, to see this necklace in ‘action’.

 
 

Overnight Case | 1956

06 1956 EPE Blue overnight case 01 06 1956 EPE Brown overnight case 01The Overnight Case was availbale in an least two colors, blue and brown.
 
Below we have this case in detail.

06 1956 EPE Blue overnight case detail 02

 
 

Paint Set | 1957

110 1957 EPE Paint Set 110 1957 EPE Paint Set 02Another near impossible to find piece of E.P.E. memorabilia: the 1957 Elvis Presley Paint Set.
 
Ger Rijff did a short but interesting article on this set for Echoes, check it out HERE!

 
 

Pencils | 1956

12 1956 EPE Pack Of Pencils 01 12 1956 EPE Pack Of Pencils 02 upgradeThe Pencils had “Sincerely yours, Elvis Presley” printed on them, and they came 12 in a pack.
 
To the right an original shipping carton (that would hold 12 sets of pencils) for this item.

 
 

Photo Album | 1956

04 1956 EPE Photo album 04 1956 EPE Photo album 02The Photo Album measured 10 by 14 inch.

 
 

Pillow | 1956

08 1956 EPE Pillow 01 07Quite a few different designs for the E.P.E. Pillows were up for grabs in 1956.
 
In the photo to the right, next to the Pillow, we can also see one of these lovely ladies showing the Elvis Presley Statuette (scroll down this article for a clear image of this item).
And if I’m not mistaken, a plastic framed E.P.E. licensed picture of Elvis is laying face-down to the left in this photo from 1957.

08 1956 EPE Pillow 02

 
 

Pin | 1956

40 1956 EPE Pin 1 40 1956 EPE Pin 2 (with Tommy Blake, 15 December, 1956, LA Hayride)This Pin was available in different sizes, as well as with and without the “Best Wishes” and autograph on it.
 
On the photo to the right we see Elvis with Tommy Blake (December 15, 1956).
A nice photo of the Colonel wearing the same button also exists.

 
 

Pins | 1956

70 71Probably because of it’s low price, this large I Like Elvis button was a very popular item in the 50′s.
Many photos from concerts exist that show female fans wearing this button. Below are some nice examples.
 
The photos are from (left to right):
* March 28, 1957
* April 1, 1957
* March 30, 1957

72

 
 

Record Case | 1956

02 1956 EPE Record Case 02 1956 EPE Record Case 02Measuring nearly 8 by 8 inch, this Record Case must have been a good seller for E.P.E.
It’s also one of only a few E.P.E. items that was not striclty aimed at the female public.

 
 

Ring | 1956

21 1956 EPE Ring and counter display card 01 21 1956 EPE Ring and counter display card 02 (Modern Screen April 1957) (Kari Paju) 18The gold-plated adjustable Ring is quite rare nowadays. And the 1956 Display Card still holding all 12 rings will easily set you back a grand.
 
To the right we have a wonderful and interesting fullpage ad from Modern Screen (April 1957). Please click the image for the full picture
 
Below we see the display, as well as the ring, in more detail.

21 1956 EPE Ring and counter display card 03

 
 

Scarf | 1956

31 1956 EPE Scarf 31 1956 EPE Scarf 02The larger sister of the Headscarf: the regular Scarf.
 
The photo to the right was taken during the unveiling of the giant Elvis cut-out on NY’s Times Square, on October 28, 1956. But I’m not sure if that lady is holding the Scarf or the Headscarf.

 
 

Scrapbook | 1956

03 1956 EPE Scrap book 03 1956 EPE Scrap book 02The Scrapbook measured 12 by 14 inch.
 
Not too long ago, the official E.P.E. Diary showed up in auction, and the nicest thing about it was that the original owner had actually used it to write down all the Elvis-related news (TV appearances, new records, etc.) from back in the day (and there was a lot of it!), and it now functions as some sort of time machine.
Hopefully one day this E.P.E. Scrapbook will also show up, loaded with rare clippings and candids from those magical years 1956 and ’57 …

 
 

Skirt | 1956

16 1956 EPE Poodle skirt 01 16 1956 EPE Poodle skirt 02This felt Skirt was available in grey (left) and black (right).
And apparently the E.P.E. skirt was also available in denim in corduroy. But I have never seen any proof of this myself.

 
 

Skirt | 1956

16 1956 EPE Poodle skirt 03 16 1956 EPE Poodle skirt 04It actually came in different designs and sizes, which, again, were available in black and grey.

 
 

Sneakers | 1956

15 1956 EPE Sneakers 01 15 02

To the right we see Elvis with Hank Saperstein, the man in charge of the E.P.E. merchandise train

15 1956 EPE Sneakers 02 15 01The sneaker was available in two colors: in black + green, and in white + black.

 
 

Statuette | 1956

07 1956 EPE Statuette 07 1956 EPE Statuette 02This 7,5 inch high bronze Statuette was actually made out of plastic.
 
To the right we have a double ad from Hep Cat’s magazine (December 1957) for the Statuette and the Lipstick.
Notice how the name of Running Wild Pink (see the Lipstick color chart earlier in this article) has now been changed to Heartbreak Pink.

 
 

The Elvis Presley Game | 1957

100 1957 EPE The Elvis Presley Game 01 100 1957 EPE The Elvis Presley Game 02Rare with a capitol R, The Elvis Presley Game is nearly impossible to find.
 
Please check out Ger Rijff‘s cool article on the Elvis boardgame HERE!

 
 

T-Shirt (short-sleeve) | 1956

17 1956 EPE T-Shirt 01 17 1956 EPE T-Shirt 02 Studio 50Another big seller was this official E.P.E. T-Shirt. Probably the most popular fan-item for any artist anytime anywhere.
 
The photo to the right is from October 28, 1956 in New York, outside Studio 50 (home of the Ed Sullivan Show) where Elvis was performing that day.
The girl wearing this shirt is also wearing the Love Me Tender Necklace.

 
 

T-Shirt (long-sleeve) | 1956

19 1956 EPE Longsleeve t-shirt 01 19 1956 EPE Longsleeve t-shirt 02Not nearly as popular as the short-sleeved T-Shirt back in the day, this long-sleeved Shirt is much harder to trace nowadays.
 
Both T-Shirts are being advertised in the ad to the right.

 
 
 
 

 
 

212

Well, that’s it for the moment. Keep an eye on Echoes for PART TWO, COMING SOON.
More E.P.E. merchandise is on it’s way. From a truckload of different Wallets and Purses, through even more Jewelry, Dresses, Pins/Buttons and Mittens (yes, mittens!), to Framed Pictures and lovely fluffy E.P.E. Hound Dogs and Teddy Bears!

STAY TUNED!

212

CREDITS + THANKS:
* The images of the E.P.E. memorabilia in this article were collected over the course of nearly a year. The bulk of these items have appeared on US auction sites.
* Credit for the b/w Elvis (+ Elvis-related) photos in this article goes to the original (unknown) photographers.
* Credit for the E.P.E. ads that appeared in Billboard, as well as the E.P.E. Merchandise article, goes to Billboard magazine.
 
* Many thanks to KARI PAJU for helping out with the scan of the EPE Ring-ad that appeared in Modern Screen magazine.
* Credit and thanks for the use of the EPE Dog Tag goes to JOE KREIN .
 

Elvis CollectiblesFor the text in this article I have mainly used the second edition of Elvis Collectibles as reference.
 
This book by Rosalind Cranor, virtually loaded with black/white images of vintage Presley memorabilia
and long out of print (but it can sometimes be found on eBay), comes very highly recommended!
First Edition – 1983
Second Edition – 1987

 
This article is dedicated to my original Echoes-partner in crime, the biggest vintage E.P.E.-fan I know, and still the main inspiration for this website: GER RIJFF.
 
212
 

 
 
 
 

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. No one is goin’ to beat this … I better start looking for a new hobby!
    Amazing job, Bob! Truely amazing!

    May 11, 2014
  2. Josep #

    Wonderful, Bob !

    I never imagined there could be so much promotional stuff…

    Thanks for sharing your huge work with us. It’s a privilege to have all of this information just one click away.

    Long Live Echoes.

    May 11, 2014
  3. r&b #

    Along with the record store banners, this my favorite article on this site. I love this stuff!

    May 12, 2014
  4. Bernard Roughton #

    Excellent, very well done! Nice quality.

    May 12, 2014
  5. Bert Nühn #

    Hi,
    You did a great job, the site looks pretty good. Lot’s of succes.
    Elvisly yours,
    Bert

    May 12, 2014
  6. Thanks Bob, fascinating stuff. Statues an’ all.

    May 12, 2014
  7. Super nice, love it!

    May 12, 2014
  8. Excellent page! Bob just amazing. Most of the stuff I’ve seen before in books or on the net, but it’s the first time that I’ve seen a leather belt!

    Does anyone have doubts about the flipbook from Jailhouse Rock? There have been a lot of doubts about that item … anyone?

    May 12, 2014
  9. Jaap Melessen #

    Great website and an even greater tribute to the man who taught Elvis-history to us all.
    Thanks Bob for this page, and thanks Ger for all your lessons. You’ve indeed been a true inspiration!

    May 15, 2014
  10. Sandra Luther #

    Thanks for the story!
    Well, I have a lot of Elvis and have been collecting since 1970, and my Viva Las Vegas fanclub has seen my things. I was in the Seven mag, June 27 2013, look me up Sandra Luther, you will be amazed.

    May 16, 2014
  11. Len Collette #

    Great Collection!
    I also wanted to add that in the leather belt collection, there is also a third buckle that was bronze coloured, a bit smaller in size also with a guitar but that looked very different than the two pictured.

    May 23, 2014
  12. Chelsey #

    This site consists of awesome and truly excellent material!

    May 23, 2014
  13. jans #

    Beautiful !

    May 25, 2014
  14. Angel #

    I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your website!

    August 4, 2014
  15. Allan #

    This ia a cool piece!
    Thanks for sharing!

    August 8, 2014

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS