History In Ink®  Historical Autographs







Frank  Lloyd Wright

“I look forward to the fireworks this year”

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867–1959.  American architect.  Autograph Note Signed, Frank Lloyd Wright, on a postcard, with a second initialed signature, FLLW, no place [Belgian Congo], no date [ca. 1951–1952]. 

Wright writes to the manager of the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Harry Boyle, in anticipation of the coming July 4 celebration.  He writes, in full:  “Dear Harry Boyle—I look forward to the Fireworks this year—see you then—Very truly yours . . . .”  Wright has addressed the card to “The Arizona Biltmore Hotel / 2400 Missouri / Phoenix / Arizona / U.S.A.”  He has also added a second signature with his initials, FLLW, in the upper left corner.

This card is desirable because it bears both a full signature by Wright, who often signed his letters with only his initials, and also his famous initials themselves.  It is an outstanding example of Wright’s holograph.

The card itself is an antique postcard that our research shows dates from around 1905.  Wright likely chose it because of its 4th of July fireworks motif.  It has a 1-franc Belgian Congo stamp that dates from 1951 or 1952, and Boyle managed the Arizona Biltmore until he retired in 1953.  Hence the autograph dates from the early 1950s.  Interestingly, although the stamp was not cancelled, Wright’s addition of  “U.S.A.” in the address indicates that he mailed the card from outside the United States.

Wright’s former employee, architect Albert Chase McArthur, designed the Arizona Biltmore for his brothers, Charles and Warren McArthur, who envisioned the hotel and resort in the 1920s.  The hotel was designed to reflect its desert environment.  With backing from investors that included the Bowman Biltmore hotel chain and William Wrigley, the owner of Wrigley’s chewing gum and the Chicago Cubs, the property opened in the spring of 1929.  Although the property suffered financial problems when the stock market crashed the following November, ushering in the Great Depression, Wrigley’s financial wherewithal kept the property intact.

Wrigley hired Boyle to manage the property.  Under his management, the hotel employed a top golf pro to serve its outstanding golf course, and hotel dinners were very formal.  The hotel attracted more and more celebrities as the years passed—people such as President Harry S. Truman and entertainers Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liza Minnelli, and Tony Bennett.  Years before they would become President and First Lady, Ronald and Nancy Reagan spent their honeymoon at the Arizona Biltmore.

Wright has written and signed this postcard in blue ballpoint.  His handwriting and signature are bold and beautiful.  The card has minor rounding at the corners and a couple of bends, particularly one at the lower right edge of the handwriting side, but they are not obtrusive.  There is minor paper loss at the corners on the image side, not affecting the autograph side, which we mention for the sake of accuracy.  Overall the card is in fine condition.  It would be beautiful in a framed display.




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