Rescuing the Letterpress Art Made for Movie Ads


An advertisement for a Sidney Poitier film.
An advertisement for a Sidney Poitier film.

This is a story about two discoveries. The first: Almost two decades ago, in the back of an antique shop in Omaha, Nebraska, DJ Ginsberg and Marilyn Wagner found dozens of boxes holding 60,000 letterpress plates and blocks of movie advertisements that chronicled five decades of film history.

The second: 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.

For many years, movie advertisements were carved into letterpress blocks and plates. Roffman stumbled across his first—an ad for the 1934 film The Imitation of Life—at an antique shop in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he was conducting an interview for a different project. “I thought it was beautiful and about a movie, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was,” he says. He bought the block, started researching its origins, and soon became obsessed. His own collection has grown to 350 blocks.

Lady and the Tramp.
Lady and the Tramp. Courtesy of Adam Roffman

Roffman first found out about Ginsberg and Wagner’s collection from an old Omaha World-Herald article….

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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