Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction

Jewelry owned by Elvis, a tavern keeper’s thematic casket, and Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker

Lot 1: The King’s Rings

Could be you’re “going to Graceland, Graceland, in Memphis Tennessee,” on March 4, and if so, there are several gemstone-encrusted rings on offer that were once owned by that hunk of burning love and aficionado of all things gold and gaudy, Elvis.

Images courtesy of Graceland Auctions

For my money, the legendary rock star’s ferocious 14-karat gold, diamond-eyed panther ring takes top honors. Quoth the lackluster auction catalog: “The ring is a stunning example of the kind of dramatic touch that Elvis was always seeking in his wardrobe and especially in his jewelry.” It is estimated to reach $15,000 at auction; online bidding has already begun.

Another favorite: an enormous stage-worn opal ring. Like the panther, it was given by Elvis to tour promoter Tom Hulett, who said, “Opal held a special meaning for Elvis…” It’s valued at $8,000–10,000.

Lot 2: Sidle up to the Bar, I mean Casket

Also on March 4, mementos from Butch McGuire’s Saloon, an iconic Chicago watering hole, will cross the auction block in suburban Oak Park. The bar opened in 1961, and is still going strong. Its founder, according to auction director John Walcher, was “an avid and savvy collector of everything bar or nautical related and decorated his bar extensively.” So … antique pub signs, decorative beer steins, and framed whiskey-themed mirrors: check, check, and check.

Perhaps the most peculiar of the 200+ lots is this custom-made, bar-shaped casket. Constructed of mahogany, pine, and brass, and featuring an interior draped in shamrock fabric, it is quite the kitschy treasure and a bargain at $400–600. A friend made the novelty casket for McGuire (he passed away eleven years ago), although it’s certainly more form than function.

Lot 3: Groupies Prefer Bronze

Apparently due to the amount of “wear” on Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, the simple bronze plaque reading Marilyn Monroe / 1926–1962 needs to be replaced every so often. This one, in use during the 1990s and betraying no sign of egregious “wear,” was “obtained directly by an employee of the cemetery 20+ years ago and consigned to this auction by her,” according to Heritage Auctions in Dallas, where it comes up for sale on March 18.

Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The bidding for this bit of Hollywood detritus starts at $10,000, although Monroe enthusiasts may take it higher. A slightly older one of these relics came to auction in 2015 and made $212,500, over a high estimate of $4,000. And when the actual crypt directly above Monroe turned up for sale in 2009, someone paid $4.6 million for the honor of being on top of the famously sexy blonde.

Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places.