Can anyone help me ID and date this Martin Luther king signature?
justino2263 Posts: 7 ✭
Hey, everyone! This family has been in my family for quite a few years but we’re unfortunately unable to tell why it was given to us and where. I’ve included a couple photos here. Cheers!
Well, it says "Reserved" on the other side and there seems to be a logo. But you didn't show a picture of that side.
I see a Playboy logo on the one side on the upper left.
So sorry about that! It does say reserved and there’s a small playboy bunny on the back. I’m on the move right now but I’ll provide another photo here in a moment!
That gets us closer. Back in the day there were Playboy Clubs around the country. I think they were basically restaurants and bars. They weren't like a live action magazine.
Due to his religious standing, not to mention segregation (even if after the Civil Rights Act), i doubt MLK would have signed this in a club, but who knows. Maybe it's what the recipient had on him when he met MLK.
The clubs opened starting in 1960, so it dates from between 1960 and 1968. I'd guess toward the later part of that time frame.
Just thought of a funny connection that I am sure is just a coincidence - there is a Mr. Booth (Cliff Booth played by Brad Pitt) in the fictional film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that takes place in 1969 and in that film one of those Playboy Club parties takes place. So a weird coincidence but funny I thought.
Also that autograph I believe to be very likely authentic.
Great thing to say! I haven’t even considered that. This is a big part of our family history that unfortunately hasn’t been answered.
Who received this was Jamaican and I believe that MLK might have spelled our family name wrong as ours ends with an E.
Interesting! I’ve included more close up gotta here-
Looks like that MIGHT had originally been a matchbox. How big is it? That would really tell us. Might very well be a name placer out on a table.
I agree with JBK, it was probably all Mr. Booth had on him for MLK to sign. Still a very nice signature.
An unused reservation card...
Also was there anything else given with this item? That can give us a LOT of clues as to when/where it was signed. Looks neat so I am thinking it was a sit down signature and not a quick in person.
I’m not quite sure that it could’ve been a matchbox, the lines on the edge are quite crisp. I can give a reference for sie here in a moment but it’s no bigger than two business cards put together
I really think it would’ve been for a table or something of that nature
Scratch what I said about MLK and Playboy. He did have some involvement and Hefner/PB was known for being an early Civil Rights supporter.
In 1964 Alex Haley interviewed MLK for the magazine. The interview was published in early 1965.
I found some indication that MLK wrote some things for PB, and that he celebrated his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize win at the PB club in Chicago. Details on the internet were a little sparse, but you can start from there.
If your relative was in Chicago in the mid 60s then that might be the source.
Unfortunately not. This is the only thing I have with it. No pictures or anything else.
It’s quite neat, the lines written are crisp and it’s never been written over with another pen. Looking at examples of other signatures, it does look like his pen strokes.
I was thinking of making a list of his pen strokes throughout his years to try to pinpoint when this could’ve taken place. King also did an interview with playboy in 1965 as well I believe.
Noted! I don’t think this will ever truly be answered as the family member who got this is now deceased and nobody knows much else about it.
Good job JBK with your research!
I think it was a table marker. Could very well had been signed in 1965 and maybe even at a Playboy event, or possibly just signed to someone who was involved with Playboy that also knew/met MLK.
Too bad the original owner didn’t provide more information before they passed. I bet they had some really cool stories to tell.
The Playboy Clubs were popular lunch and dinner locations during the 1960s and 1970's. If you can find an event that was held at the Chicago Playboy club during the period prior to MLK's death in 1968 you can probably determine when it was signed. While the Playboy Bunnies were wearing their bunny outfits the clubs were not strip clubs. I only had a single business lunch in one of them, Chicago, in 1977.
I had dinner at the Playboy Club in Atlanta in 1971. I was home on leave and on a date and date's dad was a member and took us and his wife to the club. The Bunny suits were very tasteful, the entertainment, adult but not ribald and consisted of a jazz group playing for a while and then an adult comic wearing a toga. Noting like a strip club at all. I was treated well since I was in uniform and they didn't ask for ID when I ordered a mixed drink. I saw many of what appeared to be business men and women and some high powered politicians that I recognized. Definitely a place MLK would have been at home having a meal.
I would only add that I'd expand your research to the Atlanta club as well, since MLK was based in the south.
Some interesting trivia: Gloria Steinem worked in one of the clubs as a Playboy Bunny before her feminist days.
I actually knew that about Steinem. She touched upon that time in her life in her book (My Life On The Road) and it’s also in the movie based on her book (The Glorias). Pretty interesting stuff.
The last two authentic examples of his autograph that I have seen have both been restaurant-related. Clearly he enjoyed eating out.
MLK and Rev. L. Venchael Booth (Rev. L.V. Booth), pastor at Zion Baptist church both attended the Baptist Convention in Cincinnati, OH, in Sept 1967.
Playboy Club opened in Cincinnati in 1964.
No hard evidence that these are the people and place reflected in your autograph, just circumstantial evidence to guide your search. Good luck.