The Collection – A Short Documentary about Rescuing the Letterpress Art Made for Movie Ads

In 1999, the friends Marilyn Wagner and DJ Ginsberg bought boxes of letterpress blocks and plates for $2,000. The Collection is a short documentary about these two friends.The unique collection of movie memorabilia were used create the original newspaper advertisements for virtually every movie released in the United States from the silent period through 1984, when newspapers stopped using the letterpress format.

Filmmaker Adam Roffman, who had been building his own collection of movie printing blocks, heard about Ginsberg and Wagner’s collection and decided to document their painstaking work to catalogue and preserve their collection.

The documentary explains that the two friends purchased the collection from an antique store in Nebraska almost two decades ago. It contained nearly 40,000 printer blocks and 20,000 printer plates used for movie ads in newspapers.

The unnamed artist who created the advertisements in the collection fell into the craft while stationed in California during his time in the Navy. When he came home to Nebraska, he opened a letterpress shop, KB Typesetting Co., and his California customers kept sending him work. As publishers shifted to other types of printing —such as offset and digital printing — around that time, the manufacturer responsible for making the plates and blocks went out of business and sold his collection to an antiques dealer.

The collection, which spans nearly the entire history of the film industry from the silent era to 1984, was recently appraised at ~$10 million and is available for acquisition.

The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others. Wagner says that “we just feel that these blocks are just too beautiful and too important not to be seen,” and that they hope that the entire collection will end up in a museum for movie fans to appreciate.

via [kottke]