Guernsey’s to debut unique movie memorabilia hoard June 27

An ad for the original ‘Star Wars’ movie, one of about 60,000 pieces in the Bringing Movies to Main Street collection. Guernsey’s image

NEW YORK – Guernsey’s will offer a remarkable “source collection” of 60,000 original wooden printer’s blocks and metal plates created to advertise motion pictures. From the 1920s through the 1980s, movie fans looked to their local newspapers to learn what films were coming to town. Guernsey’s is offering this unique museum collection, billed as “Bringing Movies to Main Street,” as a single auction lot on Wednesday, June 27. The live auction will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The Hollywood studios – MGM, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal and smaller studios – sent their ads to KB Typesetting in Omaha, Nebraska, to create the masters necessary for letterpress printing.  From the heavy blocks and plates, pressed paper “mats” were made to be sent across the country by the thousands. Because the plates and blocks were reasonably heavy and costly to make, these masters stayed with KB. Some would think that the materials in some way could be recycled, but KB thought differently; and so, these artifacts from the world of letterpress printing were put in storage.

Some of the masters are brass, like this ad for ‘King Kong’ (1933), while others are mounted on wooden block. Guernsey’s image

More than two decades ago, two friends from Omaha stumbled across the archive. KB Typesetting had been closed for years, its demise brought on by more advanced printing techniques. With no set plans as to what they could do with the collection, these friends found the blocks, plates and assorted ephemera fascinating and, no doubt, historic, and so they acquired it.

In addition to just about every movie title imaginable, this archive also includes masters for advertisements for legendary concerts (the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Monkees and Woodstock), as well as ads for historic fights featuring boxing icons such as Liston, Marciano, Patterson and Johanssen. These advertisements capture the excitement of the latest legendary musician or sports icon coming into town.

Thousands of titles from a half century of movie-making are included in the collection. Guernsey’s image

The new owner of the archive will have a collection like no other. It is the essence of 20th-century culture.

Guernsey’s will be accepting absentee bids until 5 p.m. Eastern on June 27.

For more information contact Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280 or auctions@guernseys.com.