My daughter is a big Elvis Presley fan, and when he died in 1977, we sent a sympathy card to the family. Seven months later, we received the acknowledgement shown in the enclosed photographs. The family did not sign the card, but the envelope shows it was mailed from Memphis, Tenn., on March 6, 1978. Does it have any monetary value?
There are only a few entertainment icons whose death made them even bigger stars and more beloved to their fans than when they were alive. Recently, Michael Jackson comes to mind, and a bit further back, Marilyn Monroe and, of course, Elvis Aron Presley.
He died Aug. 16, 1977, at the age of 42. The cause of death was officially listed as "cardiac arrhythmia" (i.e., a massive heart attack), but it has been speculated and widely reported that he actually died from a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs.
When his death was reported, the world seemed to go into shock. The outpouring of public grief was tremendous, and his fan base has remained loyal to this day. In fact, we attended an estate sale the other day, and the house had large quantities of commercial Elvis Presley memorabilia scattered all around.
We have no statistics on this, but it would be hard to imagine how many people must have sent sympathy cards and letters to the family at the time of Presley's death. The evidence suggests that the family took over a year to respond to these mammoth outpourings of grief, and we can only speculate that tens of thousands (or more) of these acknowledgement cards went out to well-wishers.
In our opinion, these unsigned cards are not rare, but they may have meaning to Elvis Presley fans. The monetary value, however, is modest, probably less than $25.
• • •
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.