Johnny Cash Memorabilia: The World's Top 10 Most Valuable items
The ten biggest auction sales of Johnny Cash music memorabilia ever recorded
10) San Quentin Prison rehearsal jumpsuit
Many of Cash's most famous shows were held in U.S prisons, due to the singer's compassion for prisoners and his own various run-ins with the law. He produced two best-selling live albums from these shows - Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) and Johnny Cash at San Quentin (1969), the second of which was filmed by Granada Television. During the rehearsal show, and dressed in a regulation blue prison jumpsuit, Cash gave the finger to a cameraman who captured the moment as one of the singer's most famous photographs of all time. The jumpsuit Cash wore during this rehearsal performance, embroidered with his name, sold at Julien's Auctions in 2010 for $50,000. (Image: Julien's)
9) 1976 Martin D76 Bicentennial Model acoustic guitar
Amongst Cash's favourite guitars was the 1976 Martin D76 Bicentennial Model acoustic guitar, a limited-edition model made to commemorate the American Bicentennial. He used the model throughout his later career, and even mentioned it in his autobiography 'Cash': "I usually have at least two guitars on stage, a D76 Martin Bicentennial Model, of which only 1,976 were made." This guitar was sold as part of the 2004 Cash estate sale at Sotheby's, where it realized $50,400.* (Image: Sotheby's)*
8) 1960s custom Fender acoustic guitar
This vintage custom Fender acoustic guitar was owned by Cash during the 1960s, and played at the Grand Ole Opry amongst numerous live performances. He gifted it to his daughter Cindy in 1977, bearing the inscription in silver marker "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Johnny Cash." The guitar was sold along with its original case and a letter of authenticity written by Cash himself at Julien's in 2010, for a price of $62,500. (Image: Julien's)
7) 1994 Grammy Award for American Recordings
In 1994 Cash recorded the album 'American Recordings', produced by Rick Rubin who had previously worked with the Beastie Boys and heavy metal groups. The stripped-back sound of the record, featuring just Cash and his Martin Dreadnought guitar, brought him to the attention of a new generation of fans. 'American Recordings' was hailed by critics as Cash's finest album in decades, and it won the 1994 Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Ten years later, the award was sold during the 2004 Cash estate auction at Sotheby's for $72,000.* (Image: Sotheby's)*
6) 1965 Fender Malibu guitar
This black Fender Malibu guitar, made circa 1965, is one of the most famous instruments associated with cash during the 60s and 70s. Featured heavily in many photographs and television performances during the period, it also appears prominently in Robert Elfstrom's 1969 documentary 'Johnny Cash - The Man, His World, His Music'. Autographed by Cash with his usual “I shot a man in Reno” inscription, the guitar was sold at Christie's in 2009 for a price of $72,100. (Image: Christie's)
5) 1997 Grammy Award For Unchained
Cash's second album in the 'American Recordings' series was 'Unchained', released in 1996. Once again produced by Rick Rubin, and featuring backing from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and members of Fleetwood Mac, the album was another success both critically and commercially. It included covers of songs by modern artists such as Beck and Soundgarden, along with older acts like Dean Martin and Jimmie Rodgers, and once again won Cash a Grammy Award for Best Country Album. The award, presented to Cash in 1997, later sold at Sotheby's in 2004 for $84,000.* (Image: Sotheby's)*
4) Owl and rattlesnake walking cane
This wooden walking cane featuring a hand-carved owl and rattlesnake design was one of several canes used by Cash during his later years, when his failing health made him unable to walk unaided. Said to be his favourite design, the cane later sold at the Sotheby's auction of the Cash estate in 2004, where it realized $84,000, more than seven times its estimate. (Image: Sotheby's)
3) 1997 D-42JC Signature Model Black Martin guitar
In 1997 Cash teamed up with the guitar manufacturer Martin to create a limited edition all-black model, made to commemorate 40 years of Cash playing the company's instruments. Just 200 examples of the D-42JC Signature Model Black Martin guitar were made, all bearing the signatures of cash and company CEO C.F Martin IV. Cash kept two guitars, #1 which also bore the signature of 'The Singing Cowboy' Gene Autry and #3 which he used during recording sessions in 1999. Guitar #1 was kept by Cash's family following his death in 2003, but guitar #3 was sold at auction through Sotheby's in 2004, for a price of $131,200.* (Image: Sotheby's)*
2) 1960s Grammer custom acoustic guitar
In 1965 country music star Billy Grammer created his own line of guitars, which were produced in Nashville until 1970. The first guitar produced was donated to the Grand Ole Opry, and soon after the company presented Johnny Cash with a custom-made grey-green sunburst finish model with a dreadnought size body - a prototype for the Johnny Cash model they later mass-produced. Cash used the guitar for countless live shows throughout the late 60s and early 70s, and it remained in the collection of his family until 2004 when it was auctioned at Sotheby's for $131,200. (Image: Sotheby's)
1) 1986 Grammy Award for 'Interviews from the Class of '55 Recording Sessions'
In 1986 Cash got together with a group of legendary performers to record a tribute to Elvis and Sun Records, the label on which they had made their first appearances. Titled 'Class of 55', the album featured Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis and was recorded as Sam Phillips original Sun Studios. The record was accompanied by a spoken work album, 'Interviews from the Class of '55 Recording Sessions', which also featured contributions from June Carter Cash, Ricky Nelson, Sam Phillips and John Fogerty amongst others. This recording won the 1986 Grammy for the Best Spoken Word Album, and Cash's award - also bearing the great names who worked with him - sold at Sotheby's in 2004 for a record $187,200. (Image: Sotheby's)
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