Globe Poster, historically one of the nation’s largest showcard companies, has been telling the story of R&B and all forms of American music and entertainment through bright and iconic posters since 1929. Globe began by printing posters for vaudeville acts, movie theaters, burlesque houses and carnivals, and became known for its work with R&B and soul performers—including James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner and Solomon Burke—and later hip-hop acts. Big, bold, fat type, DayGlo colors and distinctive lettering were hallmarks of the Globe style. The company’s unrivaled archive includes letterpress wood type, printing cuts and original posters. Globe’s sturdy wood type and metal and wood cuts have survived decades of use, outliving the hands that created them and many of the musicians they popularized. The print shop closed its doors in late 2010.
“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. “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.”
Highlights of MICA’s acquisition include:
• A significant portion of Globe’s substantial wood type collection, which includes more than 350 drawers of full
• sets of type—including condensed, bold, regular, italic and circus fonts—enough to keep four compositors setting posters at a time in Globe’s heyday.
• Approximately 5,000 letterpress “cuts”—the illustrations, lettering and photo images used to create the posters, including many hand-carved blocks. The cuts show the range of Globe’s poster clients, from R&B and hip-hop acts, both famous and long-forgotten to carnivals, circuses, drag races and burlesque.
• Original posters showing Globe’s craftsmanship and long history, from the magician Blackstone to the early days of hip hop to Frank Zappa’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The materials will be utilized by several graduate and undergraduate departments within the College, including the printmaking, graphic design and illustration fields. Students will be able to study the historical significance of this collection through active artmaking and utilization of the type and cuts, and the posters, original photographs and ephemera will be housed as a research facility.
Globe owners Bob and Frank Cicero had hoped to keep the collection in Baltimore. “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.” Bob and Frank had worked with their father, Joseph Sr., and brother, Joe, since they acquired the shop from its previous owner in 1975.
Bob Cicero will teach a course in the graphic design graduate program in the fall at MICA, using the same wood type, tools and images that once filled his print shop. “It’s amazing to me the interest these students have in letterpress, in learning this craft and keeping it alive. I’m excited to see what they will create with our type and cuts,” he said. “We are really pleased that the collection will be kept together to be studied and used by a new generation.”
For interview or high-resolution image requests, call MICA’s Office of Communications at 410.225.2300. For updated information, visit www.mica.edu.