I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of small, niche museums like the Fire Museum in Cincinnati. Baltimore’s Globe Collection and Press isn’t quite that, although its extensive collection of letterpress type, cuts, engravings and posters is worthy of a museum.
During my last visit to Baltimore, I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to tour the facility at MICA, which now owns the assets of this once prominent printing company that specialized in R&B, circus, carnival, and racing posters primarily for the East coast market.
Most of the collection is in storage, yet to be fully cataloged. It’s believed to be the second largest such collection in the US, between the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum [largest] and Hatch Show Print [third largest]. The tiny fraction I got to see was already overwhelming: above, a huge “5” from a Jackson 5 poster, and below a detail of an Aretha Franklin typographic cut.
Globe had many repeat customers who commissioned custom cuts that the designers then used and reused in inventive ways for several posters over a few years. Below, Stevie Wonder had two cuts [his name and portrait], which could be combined in a custom lock-up as shown below, or separated for graphic variation.
It has been said that Globe was to R&B what Hatch was to country music, but Globe was also known for non-musical posters. Below are a few examples of the kinds of work that made the company famous [taken from an excellent NPR story] — an Amusements of America fair in Frederick, MD:
James Brown at the Apollo in NYC:
A late example of Globe’s work, promoting the 1988 Dope Jam Tour:
Right now, Globe is in a bit of limbo. Its assets were acquired to keep the collection intact, but the vast majority is currently in storage, waiting to be cataloged, while a small portion is used as a teaching tool by students in the MICA letterpress shop.
Many of the cuts in the collection can’t be commercially reprinted without the permission of the artists or their estates, but the goal is for Globe to eventually become a self-sustaining enterprise that produces client commissions as well as self-initiated prints and products using the company’s famously bold aesthetic. Below is an example from a recent series of burlesque posters:
This DIY card kit is another example of a product inspired by the company’s aesthetic:
Aside from its online shop, you can find Globe’s work in exhibits, especially in the Baltimore area. And, while the letterpress shop is not open to the public, a private tour is certainly possible if you’re motivated to see some of the collection in person.