The Collection is a short documentary (via Kottke) by Adam Roffman that chronicles a unique piece of Hollywood history: tens of thousands of plates and blocks used to create the newspaper advertisements used for nearly every film that hit theaters before the 1980s.
The documentary explains that two friends, DJ Ginsberg and Marilyn Wagner discovered and purchased the collection from an antique store in Nebraska in 1999. It contains nearly 60,000 blocks and plates used to print advertisements for newspapers through the 1980s. As publishers shifted to other types of printing —such as offset and digital printing — around that time, the Nebraska manufacturer responsible for making the plates and blocks went out of business.
In 1984, an antique store purchased the company’s entire inventory. The collection sat in storage for 15 years before Ginsberg and Wagner purchased it, and when they had it appraised in 2015, they found that it was worth between $8 and $12 million. It’s now for sale.
Ginsberg says that they’ve spent the last 17 years working to catalog and restore the collection to its original condition, which dates back to the beginnings of the film industry. The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others. Wagner says that “we just feel that these blocks are just too beautiful and too important not to be seen,” and that they hope that the entire collection will end up in a museum for movie fans to appreciate.