MICA buying Globe Poster Co. collection

Since 1929, the Globe Poster Co. has been famous for churning out its iconic letterpress showcards and posters for concerts by artists ranging James Brown and Howlin’ Wolf to Run DMC and Led Zeppelin.

Owned by the Cicero family, and based in Baltimore, the Globe has been recognized as one of the largest showcard companies. The company’s collection had been in danger of being sold off piece-by-piece to collectors.

But on Friday, the Maryland Institute College of Art said it had cut a deal to acquire 75 percent of the collection to preserve it while also giving its students first-hand access to the body of work.

“Globe is a national treasure and a unique part of Baltimore’s cultural history. MICA is thrilled to be able to bring this extraordinary collection onto its campus and allow its legacy to live on through the eyes and hands of the many artists, designers and scholars who will benefit from its continuing to serve as an active, working press,” MICA Provost Raymond Allen said in a prepared statement. “The integration of Globe will distinguish MICA among its peers nationally and make Baltimore a special destination for those with a special interest in hand letterpress work.”

Globe owners Bob and Frank Cicero said their goal had been to keep the collection in Baltimore. The print shop closed in late 2010, but copies of the posters are available through the company’s website.

“My father would be pleased Globe is staying here,” Bob Cicero said. “It’s part of this city’s heritage and shows Baltimore’s contributions to music and entertainment.”

Globe got its start printing posters for burlesque shows, vaudeville acts and carnivals. It is best known, perhaps, for its work with Motown, blues and R&B artists including James Brown, Ray Charles and Solomon Burke. The archive MICA is acquiring will give students access to the wood type — the blocks of letters of different fonts used in printing — as well as the original posters.

The collection also includes 5,000 letterpress cuts, which are used to print the illustrations, lettering and photo images in the showcards.

Financial terms for the deal were not released.

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