True Americana: Globe Posters, Baltimore, MD

01 Canadian Hell rev

The classic zinc slug


A good friend of mine, Duke Zimmerman, once owned a printing company in Baltimore, Maryland, known variously as Globe ScreenPrint and Globe Transportation Graphics, amongst other names. His company was spun-off in 1962 from the company his grandfather, Norman I. Shapiro started in 1929, Globe Poster Baltimore.

The company’s main trade was to produce colorful, short-lived posters. Its mission wasn’t to create art (although Duke later, and to this day, does exactly that). The images were created by the firm’s talented engravers, not for the sake of art, but for the sake of attracting paying customers to their client’s events. Given from what Duke has shown me, whether artists or not, the Globe engravers were very good. In addition to racing posters, Globe was also known for its musical show posters featuring the likes of the Motown Review, James Brown, and Ray Charles.

The following images, unless otherwise noted, are photos taken by Duke of a large mural that he and his wife Phyllis created of the zinc slugs, ie printing plates, that were used by Globe to print posters for their customers.

02 NASCAR Logo s

The first NASCAR logo, a test print from a copper-on-cedar slug, from the KLM collection


By the late ‘40s early ‘50s Globe had established itself in the mid-Atlantic region as the go-to source for racing posters. One of the early Globe customers was Bill France Sr who owned a gas station in Washington, DC, long before he headed south to Daytona. Once NASCAR was established in 1948, Bill France knew where to go for graphic goodies. Although no proof exists, Globe more than likely designed the first NASCAR logo. Duke, when just a little whippersnapper, remembers being driven “fast” in a Ford on the beach at Daytona by Bill France Sr. This was probably in 1958 as the Daytona super speedway opened in 1959. I’ve been told that envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Really? No justification? I would have killed… whoops, that IS a deadly sin.

Duke’s grandfather defined a well designed poster as one with no spelling mistakes. Screw the imagery, composition, the use of color. Globe Poster created work that the art world, until recently, considered to be throwaway. Much of what Globe created was tacked to telephone poles and ripped off as soon as races, or other events, were held.


NASCAR variant


The fact that this slug was cast in zinc indicates that it was used on numerous posters, probably in the early ‘50s before NASCAR had developed a consistent corporate signature. As the NASCAR slug above also illustrates, the original art was hand-drawn, not set in type, before being committed to zinc or copper.

04 Miller Open s

Miller-esque Open Wheeler


The guys that created the art at Globe were tradesmen, nothing more. But when you look at this speeding open wheeler, you know that you are looking at art. Folk art maybe, but art.

04 Shot From Guns

Shot From Guns


Possibly a cut from a poster for Earl “Lucky” Teeter’s show. Teeter coined the phrase “Hell Drivers” when he began his touring show in 1934.

Illustration was a good way to get an early ‘50s Dodge to accelerate before the introduction of the Red Ram Hemi.

05 Dirt Track Hero

Dirt Track Hero


Duke and his wife saved many cuts that were on the trash heap to create their mural. Duke’s family routinely used old cuts to fuel bonfires at their Chesapeake Bay summer home, usually in an outdoor fireplace to prepare local Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs steamed with National Bohemian beer, a Baltimore favorite. Once a cut had served it’s purpose it was just trash. Thank Duke and Phyllis for saving some of the best cuts.

07 Midgets rev

Midgets from Hell


Jesu Christe! Does it get any better than this? Midgets or lower eschelon dirt trackers, duking (hah, hah) it out. If these guys, the ones creating the images, weren’t artists, what were they? There ought to be a museum dedicated to their work.

08 No 87 rev

I would kill for this


Duke has a bunch of great slugs in his mural. What doesn’t he have? Actual posters. Why? They were disposable. They took up room, and never were considered important. Plus they were probably printed on high acid-content paper and would no longer be extant today. Duke and Phyllis’ mural should be considered a national artistic treasure.

09 Auto Race

Wood cut print from the KLM collection


The same can be said for this wood cut. Long before you could easily create arced type in Adobe Illustrator, the engravers at Globe were chiseling text into wood by hand.

10 Stock Car Race

Wood slug


It’s hard to categorize slugs or cuts. Zinc slugs were produced whenever an image was complicated enough to be created photographically. Wooden slugs were hand-engraved at Globe Poster. Copper slugs were for the long run, higher quality work such as the NASCAR cut.

11 Stock Car

Late ‘40s, early ‘50s stock car, printed from a wood cut, from the KLM collection


Not as zippy as some of Globe’s open wheelers, but a great folk art example. Its got the coupe, the speed lines, and a number. Gotta be a stock car, right?

12 Stock Car Race

Wood cut


The blue ink gives this wood cut a metallic look. This cut was miraculously saved from the Zimmerman crab boil even though it was essentially a throwaway item. It would have been used with illustration #11, a track headline, a date, time, and not much more.


Globe ScrenPrint Poster


Duke has been very generous to Suzy and me over the years. In addition to various copper and wood slugs, Duke has given me a number of serigraphs that Globe printed (to the unwashed-silk screen posters) that I proudly display in my house. The three that you see here are all artist proofs (AP) from the same designer, Dennis Simon.

Duke, if your daughters don’t express any interest in your mural, make sure that it is bequeathed to any one of the great museums in your area, preferably to one in Baltimore. As I mentioned earlier, it is a national treasure.

14 Corcoran s

The Legacy of Globe in the Corcoran Rotunda


The Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC exhibited Globe’s music posters from February to April in 2013. Norman Shapiro hired Harry Knorr as an in-house graphic designer, who is responsible for Day-Glo ink in Globe’s posters, in the 1950s. Shapiro then sold Globe Poster Baltimore to Joe Cicero Sr. in 1975, a long time Globe employee. Globe Poster closed its doors in December 2010.

A Google image search for “Globe Poster” will bring up many large size images of Globe’s rock and R&B posters from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

When Globe Poster Baltimore produced its posters, the word “craft” could be applied to its work. Kids would rip down the James Brown posters from the sides of buildings so that they could display them in their dorm rooms. Today maybe you get a crappy image on your iPhone, maybe just a text. Pttooie!

Thankfully, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) bought “the Globe collection” of music and performance posters, as well as the entire Globe print shop, from Bob Cicero’s sons after Globe Poster Baltimore closed in 2010.

From what I can tell Duke’s mural, along with the three cuts that I have, are all that remain from the car end of the biz.

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