PRELIMINARY INVENTORY OF THE FRANK BROTHERS RECORDS, 1929-2005

Finding aid prepared by Antonio Beecroft


Descriptive Summary

Title: Frank Brothers records
Date (inclusive): 1929-2005
Number: 2009.M.19
Creator/Collector: Frank Brothers
Physical Description: 21.4 linear feet (23 boxes, 7 flatfile folders)
Repository:
The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
Research Library
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
http://www.getty.edu/research/conducting_research/library/reference_form.html
Abstract: The Frank Brothers records contain material from the Frank Brothers furniture company, an influential, Long Beach, California-based organization, active between 1930 and 1982, credited with defining and promoting mid-century modern furniture design on the West Coast.
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Language: Collection material is in English.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Frank family's path toward redefining interior design in America began with a store named Cash Furniture, located at 219 East 4th Street in Long Beach, California, where Louis Frank sold modestly-priced, old and new furniture and resale appliances. In 1930, he joined forces with his son Maurice and changed the name of the business to L. Frank and Son. It was Louis's younger son Edward, who saw an opportunity to create a niche in the market by shifting exclusively to contemporary furniture sales, and when he joined the organization in 1937, Frank Brothers was born.
Ed was the visionary and creative force of the operation, while Maurice handled the business affairs. The initial years of the company were difficult, as a result of the Great Depression and World War II. As the economy gained strength, however, Frank Brothers' scope of operations rapidly expanded to include furniture sales, the manufacturing of original furniture designs, upholstery, drapery, and on-site, interior design services. In 1947, the store moved to 2400 Long Beach Boulevard. The eighty-foot-wide corner lot featured two hundred feet of large, street-facing display windows. The organization eventually became a full service interiors company with a two-story showroom, warehouse, and factory all under one roof.
In addition to the retail store, Frank Brothers operated a wholesale company named "Moreddi," a combination of Maurice and Ed's names. Moreddi imported furniture from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, supplying the Frank Brothers store and various retail outlets.
In 1960, Maurice died unexpectedly at the age of 51. His son, Ron Frank, then joined his uncle Ed and further developed the business. Because he was only thirteen years younger than his uncle, most new customers assumed that the two relatives were the original "Frank Brothers." In 1965, the business was split between the two partners. Ed took over the Moreddi import business and Ron led the retail store.
Frank Brothers' critical involvement with Arts and Architecture magazine launched the company into the international design scene. Ed Frank met the magazine's editor, John Entenza, in the 1940s and eventually became a contributing member of the publication. By providing the furnishings for many of the Case Study House Program's innovative homes, including all of the carpet and drapery for the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California, Frank Brothers became an extremely influential force in shaping the progressive aesthetic of mid-century modern design.
The marketing and promotion of Frank Brothers was exceptional. Their unique and graphically bold advertisements published in Arts and Architecture helped to publicize the clean lines of the avant-garde furniture they sold in their store. Popular print advertisement campaigns and mass mailers announced upcoming sales, in-store exhibitions, and other special events. In order to attract customer traffic to the store in the late 1960s, Ron Frank curated and designed a furniture exhibition series. Topics included plastic, vinyl, and inflatable, "see through" furniture, and Italian designs featuring the work of Carlo Scarpa.
The store diversified the audience for modern furnishings. With the advent of the freeway system, Frank Brothers' strategic and accessible location, midway between Los Angeles and Orange County, allowed the business to cater to a large geographic area. It also appealed to a broad economic range of customers. Frank Brothers sold "good design at every price." The store even sold less expensive copies of many of the contemporary designs they stocked, as well as allowing customers to pay for merchandise with a popular layaway program.
In 1969 Ed sold his ownership of Moreddi and moved to New York, where he served briefly as the company's president. Ron Frank continued to run the Frank Brothers store until 1982, when he sold the business to the Danica furniture company. He retained ownership of the architecturally significant building at 2400 Long Beach Blvd., however, until it was burned to the ground during rioting in 1992.

Administrative Information

Access

Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Preferred Citation

Frank Brothers records, 1929-2005, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 2009.M.19

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ron Frank in 2009.

Processing History

Antonio Beecroft processed the collection in 2010 and made a complete inventory under the supervision of Ann Harrison, who also devised the arrangement and adapted the descriptive notes from curatorial reports.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Frank Brothers records contain material from the Frank Brothers furniture company, an influential, Long Beach, California-based organization, active between 1930 and 1982. With its retail store and related services and with its furniture importing company, Frank Brothers is credited with defining and promoting mid-century modern furniture design on the West Coast. The company provided, marketed, and sold the furnishings for many of the innovative homes featured in Arts and Architecture magazine's Case Study House Program. It also launched many of Charles and Ray Eames' revolutionary furniture pieces.
Documentation of the Frank Brothers retail store comprises Series I and forms the bulk of the archive. It covers the entire range of operations of the retail aspect of the business. This documentation is primarily visual, including photographs, slides, trade catalogs, scrapbooks and various printed materials. Frank Brothers' committment to design in all its aspects is overwhelmingly evident, in the furnishings they sold, the ways in which they marketed them, and even in the store itself.
The business enjoyed an especially productive and close relationship with a number of designers. Charles and Ray Eames launched many of their new chair designs in the Frank showroom, including the 1968 unveiling of the Eames chaise lounge. The archive includes at least five of Charles Eames' original photographs used for Frank Brothers’ print ads and mailings.
Frank Brothers' "integrated interiors" were pioneering for their asymmetrical arrangement of objects and mix of different masses and colors. Well-respected in the industry, Ed Frank would travel to Europe to meet with designers and discover new examples of "West Coast style" contemporary furnishings that were warmer than the austere, Bauhaus machine aesthetic embraced on the East Coast. These interiors are documented in the archive in images by such leading photographers as Marvin Rand, Todd Walker and Julius Shulman.
The forty-year collection of advertisements, mailers and exhibition invitations in the archive reveals the evolution of California modern graphic design. Art Shipman and Steve Madden were the graphic designers behind Frank Brothers’ popular print advertisement campaigns and mass mailers announcing upcoming sales, in-store exhibitions, and other special events. All of the marketing copy was written in-house by Ron Frank.
The Frank Brothers store at 2400 Long Beach Boulevard also reflected this commitment to superior design. Edward Killingsworth, the noted Southern California Modern architect, was a close high school friend of Ed Frank and a supporter of the business. In 1963, he redesigned a new north entrance and interior for the store, for which extensive documentation is included in the archive.
Two smaller groups of material round out the archive. Series II contains documentation of Moreddi, the wholesale, import division of the family business, run by Ed Frank, which supplied furnishings for the Frank Brothers store and other retailers. Personal material relating to family members, especially Ed and Ron Frank, comprises Series III. Of particular interest is the documentation of Ed Frank's home, Case Study House #25, designed by Ed Killingsworth.

Arrangement

Arranged in three series: Series I. Frank Brothers store, 1930-2002; Series II. Moreddi, 1957-1971; Series III. Frank family papers, 1929-2005.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Killingsworth, Edward

Subjects - Topics

Advertising layout and typography--United States--20th century
Architect-designed furniture
Architecture, Modern--20th century--California, Southern
Furniture design--exhibitions
Furniture--California--20th century
Graphic arts--California--Los Angeles--20th century
Interior decoration--California--20th century
Modern movement (Architecture)--California

Genres and Forms of Material

Color slides
Direct mail
Gelatin silver prints--United States--20th century
Photographic prints--20th century
Photographs, Original
Printed ephemera
Scrapbooks
Trade catalogs

Contributors

Frank, Edward
Frank, Ron


Container List

 

Series I. Frank Brothers store, 1930-2002

Physical Description: 17.2 linear feet (17 boxes, 6 flatfile folders)

Scope and Content Note

Documentation of the Frank Brothers retail store and its related operations comprises this series. It contains an extensive visual record of the store itself, the furnishings they sold and the creations of the store's interior design service, as well as Frank Brothers marketing and promotional materials.

Arrangement

The series is arranged in six subgroups: documentation of the store and showroom, furnishings, interior design, promotions and general publicity, direct mail and print advertising, scrapbooks.
Box 1, 9, 10, 15*, 17

Documentation of store and showroom, circa 1930-1992

Scope and Content Note

Primarily photographic documentation of the Frank Brothers store at 2400 Long Beach Boulevard both in its original 1947 form and after the 1963 expansion and renovation by Edward Killingsworth. Also includes limited material relating to the earlier location of the Cash Furniture store at 219 East 4th St. Also in Flatfiles 1**-5**.
Box 1, 10

Store opening, 1947

Box 1, Folder 1

Photographs

Box 1, Folder 2

Congratulatory notes

Box 1, Folder 2A

Press coverage of opening

Box 10

Guest book

Box 1, 17

Expansion and remodeling of store, 1946-1964, undated

Scope and Content Note

Also in Flatfiles 1**-5**.
Box 1, Folder 3

Demolition for parking lot, undated

Box 17, Folder 1

Ceiling damage, 1962

Box 1, 17

Construction, 1946, 1960-1964, undated

Scope and Content Note

Includes photographs of "Exposed to smoke sale." Also in Flatfiles 1**-5**.
Box 1, Folder 4

Black-and-white photographs and notes

Box 17, Folder 2

Color photographs

Flatfile 1**-5**

Architectural plans and drawings, 1946, 1960-1963, undated

Flatfile 4**

Plans for original store by Louis Shoall Miller, 1946

Scope and Content Note

Diazotype with black-and-white photographs attached.
Flatfile 2**

Original perspective drawing for exterior of store, circa 1960

Flatfile 1**

Diazotypes of floor plans and small original perspective drawing, 1960

Flatfile 3**

Floor plans of original and remodeled building on board, undated

Flatfile 5**

Copies of Killingsworth plans for store renovation, 1963

Box 1, Folder 5

Press coverage of renovations, 1963-1964

Scope and Content Note

Includes related correspondence.
Box 15*, 17

Destruction of 2400 Long Beach Blvd., 1992

Box 15*, Folder 1

Press coverage of riots with photograph of Danica ruins

Box 17, Folder 3

Demolition of damaged structure

Box 1, 9, 17

General interior and exterior views, 1947-1968, undated

Box 1, Folder 6-7

Black-and-white photographs

Box 9, Folder 1

Oversize black-and-white photographs

Box 17, Folder 3A

Slides

Box 1, 17

Views of previous store at 219 E. 4th St., circa 1930-1946

Box 1, Folder 8

Black-and-white photographs

Box 17, Folder 3B

Slides

Box 2, 11, 12, 17, 21

Furnishings, 1945-1983, undated

Scope and Content Note

Documentation of the furnishings carried by the Frank Brothers retail store, primarily photographic, but also includes occasional notes, letters, layouts, sketches, tearsheets, stockbooks, and price lists. Also includes documentation of the custom work done by the upholstery shop.
Box 2, 17

Individual designers and manufacturers, 1945-1979, undated

Box 2, Folder 1

Baker, undated

Box 2, Folder 1A

Drexel, undated

Box 2, Folder 2

Charles and Ray Eames (Herman Miller), 1969, undated

Scope and Content Note

Includes correspondence.
Box 2, 17

Glenn of California, 1945, undated

Box 2, Folder 3

Trade catalog with Greta Grossman designs, undated

Scope and Content Note

Materials in folder from a disassembled stockbook (binder) containing photographs and printed matter.
Box 17, Folder 4

Slides of Stan Young and Milo Baughman designs for Glenn of California, circa 1945

Box 2, Folder 3A

Sam Maloof, 1968

Box 2, Folder 4

Paul McCobb, 1951, undated

Box 2, Folder 5

Peter Murdoch child chair, undated

Box 2, Folder 6

Neal Small designs, undated

Box 17, Folder 5

Thayer Coggins factory views, 1979

Box 2, 12, 17

Frank Brothers departments, 1961-1972, undated

Box 2, 12, 17

Upholstery shop, 1962-1972, undated

Box 2, Folder 7-8

Black-and-white photographs, 1972, undated

Box 17, Folder 6

Slides and negatives, 1962, undated

Box 12

Stock book with prices and yardage, undated

Box 17, Folder 7

Accessories department, 1961, undated

Box 2, Folder 11

Ron Frank's notes and price lists, 1981-1983

Scope and Content Note

Includes notes on Danica transition.
Box 2, Folder 12

Letters from Maurice Frank to Ed and Ron Frank, 1956

Scope and Content Note

Letters from travel in Europe and Asia include discussion of potential items for the store to stock.
Box 2, 9, 11, 17, 21

Various furnishings, 1950-1972, undated

Box 2, Folder 9-10

Papers and black-and-white photographs, 1950-1958, undated

Box 9, Folder 4-5

Oversize black-and-white photographs, undated

Box 17, Folder 7A

Color photographs and transparencies, 1972, undated

Box 11

Album, undated

Box 17, Folder 8

Slides, undated

Scope and Content Note

Unidentified slides of interiors and furniture.
Box 21, Folder 1-2

Stereo transparencies, undated

Box 21, Folder 9

Rolls of negatives, undated

Box 9, Folder 5A

Press coverage, 1955

Box 3, 9, 13, 19, 21

Interior design services, 1948-1992, undated

Box 3, 9, 19, 21

Projects, 1948-1970, undated

Scope and Content Note

Contains both black-and-white prints and mounted color stereo slides.
Box 19, Folder 1

Model home, Tucson, 1948

Box 3, Folder 11

The Pilot House, Mutual Housing Association, 1948

Box 3, 19, 21

Maurice and Mary Frank House, 1948-1951, undated

Box 3, Folder 12

Black-and-white photographs

Box 19, Folder 2-3

Slides and color photograph

Box 21, Folder 3

Stereo transparencies

Box 3, Folder 13

Opdahl House, 1957

Box 3, 19, 21

Home Show, 1957, 1959

Box 3, Folder 14

Black-and-white photographs

Box 19, Folder 4

Slides

Box 21, Folder 4

Stereo transparencies

Box 19, Folder 5

Terra Casa model home, circa 1960

Box 21, Folder 6

A.I.D. Show, 1961

Box 3, 9, 19

Pomona Fair projects, 1969-1970

Box 3, Folder 15

Documentation, 1970

Box 9, Folder 2-3

Press coverage, 1969-1970

Box 19, Folder 6-7

Slides, 1969-1970

Box 3, Folder 16

Killingsworth office and Clock, Waestman, Clock building, undated

Box 3, Folder 17

Philmer Ellerbroek House, undated

Box 19, 21

Bean's house, undated

Box 21, Folder 5

Stereo transparencies

Box 19, Folder 8

Slides

Box 19, Folder 9

College Park model homes, undated

Box 19, Folder 10

New Orleans interior job, undated

Box 3, Folder 18

Portofino marinapartments, undated

Box 3, Folder 19

Marina Tower, undated

Box 3, Folder 20

Miscellaneous interior design jobs, undated

Box 13, Folder 1-3

Clippings relating to Ed Frank as a designer, 1953-1965

Scope and Content Note

Includes Ed Frank's decorating advice column and participation in "Living with Famous Paintings."
Box 3, Folder 21

Stan Young obituary, 1992

Box 3, 5, 15*, 18

Promotions and general publicity, circa 1940-1974, undated

Box 3, Folder 11

Window displays, 1947-1950, undated

Scope and Content Note

Includes images from previous store at 219 E. 4th St.
Box 3, 15*, 18

Exhibitions and store events, 1960-1974, undated

Box 3, 18

International Fair, 1960 August

Box 3, Folder 1

Invitation and photograph

Box 18, Folder 1

Slides

Box 3, 15*

Arts of Denmark exhibition, 1961

Box 3, Folder 9

Invitation

Box 15*, Folder 2

Press coverage

Box 18, Folder 2

Knoll exhibition, 1967 February

Box 3, 18

See-Thru exhibition, 1967 August

Box 3, Folder 2

Invitation

Box 18, Folder 3

Slides

Box 3, 18

Italian exhibition, 1967 October

Box 3, Folder 2A

Press coverage

Box 18, Folder 4

Slides

Box 3, 18

Selections from California Design, 1968 April

Box 3, Folder 3

Invitation

Box 18, Folder 5

Slides

Box 15*, 18

Around the Clock bedroom exhibition, 1968 August

Box 18, Folder 6

Slides

Box 15*, Folder 3

John Nyquist plans for bed in exhibit, 1968

Box 18, Folder 7

Eames exhibition, 1968 November

Box 3, 15*, 18

New Forms exhibition, 1969 February

Box 3, Folder 4

Invitation

Box 15*, Folder 4

Press coverage

Box 18, Folder 8

Slides

Box 3, 18

Neal Small exhibition, 1969 August

Box 3, Folder 5

Invitation

Box 15*, Folder 4A

Press coverage

Box 18, Folder 9

Slides

Box 3, 15*, 18

Emotional Eye exhibition, 1970 March

Box 3, Folder 6

Invitation

Box 15*, Folder 5

Press coverage

Box 18, Folder 10

Slides

Box 3, Folder 7

Debut '72 exhibition, 1972 September

Box 3, 18

44 Years exhibition, 1974 October

Box 3, Folder 8

Black-and-white photographs

Box 18, Folder 10

Slides

Box 3, 18

Various event and exhibition photographs, 1950-1972, undated

Box 3, Folder 10

Black-and white photographs

Box 18, Folder 10A

Slides

Box 5, 13

General publicity, 1951-1971, undated

Box 5, Folder 6-7

Black-and-white photographs, undated

Box 5, Folder 8-9

Promotional materials, 1951-1971

Box 13, Folder 6

Oversize materials, 1958-1968

Box 3, 15*

General press coverage, 1948-1971, undated

Box 15*, Folder 6

Newspaper clippings, 1948-1970

Box 3, Folder 22

Magazine articles and photocopies, 1965-1971, undated

Box 4, 5, 13, 15*, 19

Direct mail and print advertising, 1949-2002

Scope and Content Note

Also in Flatfile 6**.
Box 4, 13

Direct mail, circa 1958-1981, undated

Scope and Content Note

Also in Flatfile 6**.
Box 4, Folder 1-3

Sales events, circa 1958-1981

Scope and Content Note

Also in Flatfile 6**.
Box 4, Folder 1

Anniversary sale mailers, 1958-1981

Flatfile 6**

33rd anniversary sale posters and prints, 1963

Scope and Content Note

Drawing by Carlos Diniz.
Box 4, Folder 2

Summer and June sale mailers undated

Box 4, Folder 3

Special sale mailers, undated

Box 4, Folder 4

Holiday mailer, undated

Scope and Content Note

Also includes holiday cards and pamphlets with gift ideas, recipes and ideas for holiday entertaining.
Box 13, Folder 4-5

Cybernetic Art holiday mailer, undated

Box 4, Folder 5

Miscellaneous mailers and announcements, undated

Box 5, 15*, 19

Advertising, 1949-2002

Box 5, Folder 1

Advertising awards, 1958-1959, undated

Box 5, 19

Arts and Architecture advertising, 1949-1962

Box 5, Folder 2-3

Print copies

Box 19, Folder 11

Slides

Scope and Content Note

Slides of published advertising in Arts & Architecture, includes reproductions of images used in ads.
Box 5, Folder 4-5

Advertising artwork, undated

Box 5, Folder 10

Press coverage of advertising and direct mail, 1967-1969, undated

Box 15*, Folder 7

Review of book by Jim Heimann on graphic design featuring Frank Brothers advertising, 2002

Box 22*-23*

Scrapbooks, 1947-1975

Scope and Content Note

Includes newspaper and magazine clippings, tearsheets, awards and certificates, mailers and advertisements.
 

Series II. Moreddi, 1957-1971, undated

Physical Description: 2.6 linear feet (3 boxes, 1 flatfile folder)

Scope and Content Note

This series is comprised of material related to Moreddi, the furniture import side of the Frank family business, run by Ed Frank after the business was divided in 1965. Included here are correspondence, advertising and press coverage relating to the company, but of particular interest are the trade catalogs and photographs of Moreddi furniture.

Arrangement

Arranged by topic.
Box 6, 20, 21

Designs, 1958-1967, undated

Scope and Content Note

Also in Flatfile 7**.
Box 6, Folder 1-2

"Presenting the Moreddi Collection" catalog, undated

Box 20, Folder 1

Showroom display, undated

Box 20, Folder 2

Moreddi Collection, 1958

Box 6, Folder 3-4

Wood furniture, undated

Box 6, Folder 3

Trade catalog

Box 6, Folder 4

Photographs of designs with price lists

Scope and Content Note

Contents from binder; includes photographs, prices, dimensions and specifications of furniture finishes.
Box 6, 21

Upholstered furniture, undated

Box 6, Folder 5

Black-and-white photographs

Box 21, Folder 7

Stereo transparencies

Box 6, Folder 6

Edward Frank patent for convertible couch, 1962

Flatfile 7**

Edward Frank drawing of desk cabinet with storage, 1967

Box 7, Folder 1-3

Correspondence, 1957-1969, undated

Scope and Content Note

Primarily letters from Ed Frank to Maurice Frank reporting on buying trips to Europe. Also includes images and price lists for some of the furnishings discussed.
Box 13, 16*

Press coverage, 1965-1971

Box 16*, Folder 1

Furnishings, 1965-1971

Box 13, Folder 7

Interview with Ed Frank, 1969

Box 16*, Folder 2-4

Moreddi employee embezzling case, 1965

Box 9, Folder 6

Advertising, 1957-1966

 

Series III. Frank family papers, 1929-2005

Physical Description: 1.6 linear feet (3 boxes)

Scope and Content Note

Personal papers of the various members of the Frank family comprise this series. The material consists primarily of family photographs, but also contains items such as documents related to Ed Frank's military service and cartoons drawn by Ron Frank. Of particular interest is the documentation of Ed Frank's home, Case Study House #25, designed by his high-school friend, Edward Killingsworth.

Arrangement

Arranged by family member.
Box 8, Folder 1

Louis and Rose Frank, circa 1930-1950

Scope and Content Note

Family photographs, obituary.
Box 8, 9, 13, 14, 16*, 20

Edward Frank, 1929-2005

Box 14

Scrapbook, 1929-1932

Scope and Content Note

Scrapbook contains family photographs and ephemera with notations.
Box 13, Folder 8

Certificates and diplomas, 1929-1957

Box 8, Folder 2

Military service, 1941-1945

Box 8, Folder 4

Portraits and promotional material, undated

Box 8, 9, 16*, 20

Case Study House # 25, 1955-2000

Box 8, Folder 3

Photographs, circa 1962-1963

Scope and Content Note

Black-and-white photographs, and clippings documenting the construction and finished house of Edward Frank in Naples, California designed by Killingsworth/Brady.
Box 20, Folder 3

Slides, 1962

Scope and Content Note

Includes color slides of ground breaking ceremonies and slides of magazine editorials on the finished house.
Box 16*, Folder 5

Newspaper clippings, 1963

Box 9, Folder 7-9

Magazine articles, 1955-2000

Scope and Content Note

Includes other material relating to Edward Killingsworth.
Box 9, Folder 10

Preservation award, 1993

Box 16*, Folder 6

Obituaries, 2005

Box 8, Folder 5

Miscellaneous, 1957-1990, undated

Box 8, 9, 21

Maurice Frank, undated

Box 8, Folder 6

Black-and-white portraits

Box 9, Folder 11

Oversize portraits

Box 21, Folder 8

Stereo transparencies

Scope and Content Note

Also includes Bruce Hill and Bill Lassiter.
Box 8, 20

Ron Frank, 1972-1992, undated

Box 8, 20

Portraits, 1977, undated

Box 8, Folder 7

Black-and-white photographs, undated

Box 20, Folder 4

Color photographs and slides, 1977, undated

Box 8, Folder 8

General interviews, 1972-1982

Box 8, Folder 9

Cartoons, undated

Box 20, Folder 5-6

Color photographs related to travel and Frank Brothers events, 1979-1992, undated

Box 8, 20

Miscellaneous, undated

Box 8, Folder 10

Papers

Box 20, Folder 7

Slides