Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, September 2020
(Reviewers declaration: The reviewer edited Elvis Firearm & Weapon Collector An Illustrated Compendium for the author prior to its publication)
Elvis had a number of special interests, including his search for spiritual meaning, automobiles, and the martial arts. All three of these have been well recorded in numerous books. Another, much less appreciated interest, was Elvis’ interest in firearms and other weapons.
And until now, the extent of his impressive collection has not been substantially recorded. Belard states that Elvis owned more than 300 firearms and weapons during his lifetime and that his book covers only a fraction of these (EIN suggests it covers a large fraction of Elvis’ collection).
Right: Elvis at Audubon Drive in Memphis, in September 1956.
Paul Belard’s latest photobook, Elvis Firearm & Weapon Collector An Illustrated Compendium, showcases hundreds of Elvis’ guns, knives and associated items. Most of the items are presented in color
Elvis Firearm & Weapon Collector An Illustrated Compendium is impressive. Never before has there been such a comprehensive visual and narrative record of Elvis’ passion presented in one book.
Elvis' Colt .357 Python revolver with ingrained wood handle and TCB logo.
The firearms and weapons comprise:
· Hand guns
· Hip and shoulder gun holsters
This S&W .357 Magnum, customized grip, a 14k gold TCB logo inlay plus TCB logo engraved on the gun.
The visual component has many highlights:
· Great front and back cover images
· A highly colourful Elvis in his Las Vegas Hilton suite quite dangerously showing a gun to his friends
· The shooting range and Police Silhouette Target in the old smokehouse at Graceland
· Full page color images of various hand guns such as:
*Gold Inlaid Smith & Wesson Model 29-2 revolver
*Colt 1911 pistol
*Python .357 caliber revolver
*Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver
*Elvis with a hand gun pointed at Colonel Parker’s head (see below)
*Harrington & Richardson (long barrelled) revolver
*High Standard Elite King riot model K-10 shotgun
*WWII Red Cross dagger
*Gold gun belt and holster gifted by Elvis and the Colonel to Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles
- On August 1, 1956, in Biloxi, Elvis tried his new rifle. It was a gift from Mr. Bellman, a friend from Biloxi.
- Pair of Colt .22 caliber Derringer duel pistols. On one side of each grip the initials EP are inlaid in 18k gold.
Elvis' Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum, the highest valued revolver in the world.
The text accompanying each photo is informative, variously providing detailed descriptions of each firearm or weapon, provenance details, values, and more. For example, in relation to Elvis’ stunning Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum revolver (pictured), the author includes (in part):
Elvis purchased this beautiful gun on November 6, 1970, from Kerr’s Sporting Goods in Beverly Hills, California. The pistol has leaf and scroll engraving outlined by sweeping borders of inlaid gold and silver. Elvis sent it to Germany to be elaborately decorated by Friedrick Wilhelm Heym Co. Images of animals – bear, elk, buffalo and mountain lions – are inlaid in gold. The ivory grip is carved with a deer on one side and an antelope on the other. Serial No. 688344.
Estimated to bring between $160,000-$250,000 by the Rock Island Auction Company, the revolver sold for $195,500 in May 2017, making it the most expensive Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum revolver in the world.
The book features a chapter on Elvis tribute weapons, artworks of Elvis with guns (e.g. Andy Warhol’s famous Elvis in Flaming Star print and Mr. Brainwash “Fisher Price” semi-automatic image. There is also an interesting interview with Captain Bob Ferguson by Joe Krein (Captain Ferguson wrote the book, Elvis in the Beat of the Night: True Stories of Elvis and his Police Buddies).
Elvis' Python .357 revolver sold for $172,500 in May 2017, making it the most expensive gun of this kind in the world. Elvis purchased the gun from Kerrs Sporting Goods, Beverly Hills, and then had it engraved.
Other features include:
· Advertisement for The Elvis and Tribute (Model 194 Winchester Rifle)
· Elvis Presley” “Taking TCB” Tribute Revolver
· Official Firearms Transaction Records
· Affidavits and signed letters of authentication by people such as Dick Grob and Jerry Kennedy (Division Chief, Denver Police Department)
· Other chain of provenance information
· Auction sales details
Sadly, Elvis missed!
The page design is good and the page size (21.5 x 28 cms) allows the photos to be properly appreciated. The intricate detail of particular items is especially evident when they are presented as full page images. My only minor concern is that some of the images, particularly those which are reproductions of affidavits and the like, are somewhat hazy.
The final eight pages of the book feature front and back cover images for sixteen other photo-books by the author.
As is customary with Paul Belard book releases, this first edition is limited to 50 signed and numbered copies.
EIN Note: Elvis also had a large collection of law enforcement badges. These will be the subject of a future book (or books) by the author.
Verdict: Elvis Firearm & Weapon Collector An Illustrated Compendium is another strong release from the author, offering excellent balance between its visual and narrative elements and rare, value-add, archival material. Paul Belard is to be congratulated on sourcing around 200 images of and information about Elvis’ not as well-known interest in firearms and weapons. Due to the comprehensive record it provides, the book is a mandatory inclusion in any library collection concerned with the full story of Elvis Presley.
To order Elvis Firearm & Weapon Collector An Illustrated Compendium:
Buy on Amazon/Amazon Prime