Print Blocks, Add to Your Favorite Collection

Pate Gasoline - Hello Neighobor

Pate gasoline – Hello Neighbor

I’ve collected print blocks for a long time now. On my desk is a print block advertising a very old oil and gas station company, Pate, with their once famous motto “Hello Neighbor.”  I have it ready to put in a display case for our next antique show.  At the end of last year, a customer asked for anything from Pate and I agreed to look for the printing block that I remembered seeing in a large collection of print blocks I had purchased many years ago.


A sample of the engraver’s intricate work

The use of printing blocks in newspapers and other printed advertising resulted in vast quantities of these blocks being produced. Examples of the same logo were often replicated in several sizes depending on the usage. Larger sizes for newspaper or magazine ads, with full, half or quarter page ads requiring different size print blocks. Even smaller versions were needed for letterheads, business cards or company envelopes.  These are now a relic of the very recent past, and quite collectible.

Graphics from the engraver showed the artistry and dedication to their vocation.


White Cross Pharmacy – Huntington W. VA – Dial 5972

Advertising a product was not the only use for printing blocks. One collection we had was from a pharmacy label printing company and included the  drug store name and address and had a two to four digit phone number that assured the age of the blocks as pre-war.

Borden's Milk -- Letter press print blocks are reverse of the printed page

Borden’s Milk –
Letter press print blocks are reverse of the printed page

Printing blocks are a great way to add to your collections and the choice of subject matter seems endless. In our collection of cow figurines this print block was added. Today the blocks are very collectible, and a reason to search for one that may enhance your collections include finding graphics once used to advertise the products.


Letter combined

Single letters are combined to form words on the printed page. The individual letter blocks, especially the all wooden large font letters are sought by decorators wanting to have their names spelled out and on display. Adding flowers or other design elements on each end,  a question mark or exclamation point at the end. Often in antique shops a dealer will spell the shops name or just “ANTIQUE” in letter blocks often mixing font style and size. Still the most popular use of letters is the persons name, and we watch people sort through our boxes of letters at flea markets lining up their name as the find each letter.

Standard Oil Co.

Standard Oil Co. print block

Popular with stampers are the intricate designs of columns, pillars and lace  that were used as toppers or boarders in print media. Fancy letters, and simple graphics, a heart, bells, evergreen trees, pumpkins, flags or the like, can be used in your projects for seasonal cards. Words are formed and messages delivered in a most personal way that has made stamping family fun for young and old.



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