One item which often appears in our Washington, DC benefit auctions is a printer’s plate.
What is a printer’s plate? It’s a metal plate traditionally used in offset printing. The raised areas of the plate carried ink, which was transferred to a rubber blanket and onto the printing surface, such as paper.
That said, the plates donated to these auctions do not appear to be the actual plates used in the process of making the papers of today. The plates for sale are smaller, lighter versions of what would traditionally be used in the offset printing process. Furthermore – in addition to the size difference – the other factor suggesting these plates silent auction ideas are not the actual ones used to print today’s headlines is that oftentimes the paper donates multiple plates to each organization.
For instance, one client had been given two printer’s plates from November 5, 2008 – the day the world learned that the United States had elected its first African-American president. For Obama fans, history buffs, or new junkies, the plates were a unique piece of history, regardless of whether the plates were those actually used to print The Wall Street Journal.
According to my clients, these plates are relatively easy to obtain. Several non-profits have procured a printer’s plate from The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal.
How to Procure a Printer’s Plate
If you have a contact at your local paper, call him or her first. For groups lacking a contact, call the paper and ask for the Community Relations or Marketing departments. These internal teams traditionally handle donations to organizations and can inform you as to the availability of a plate. Multiple plates are often made of each front page, so perhaps you can secure two of them!