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Ralph Ginzburg (1929 - 2006)

Lifespan: 1929 - 2006

Related: eros - erotic art - American censorship - American erotica

Collection of Eros magazine
Image sourced here.

1972 mug shot of Ginzburg
Image sourced here.

It's agreed by all observers that what really sealed Ginzburg's fate was a photo-spread in the fourth, final issue of EROS: "Black & White in Color: A Photographic Tone Poem" by Ralph M. Hattersley, Jr., a respected photographer and professor who wrote over a dozen instructional photography books. (Hattersley passed away in 2000.) The photos are extraordinarily tame by today's standards - there's no sex, and the only "naughty bits" on display are the woman's breasts and both booties in one sideview shot. But showing a black man and a white woman, in the nude, embracing, kissing, obviously getting ready to do the deed - well, it was just too shocking in the early 1960s. Ginzburg was made to pay. --rare erotica


Ralph Ginzburg (October 28, 1929 July 6, 2006) was an American author, editor, publisher and photo-journalist. He was best known for publishing books and magazines on erotica and art and for his conviction in 1963 for violating federal obscenity laws. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Ginzburg [Sept 2006]

EROS Collection

Eros magazine was first published on Valentine's Day of 1962 by Ralph Ginzberg. A lavishly produced quarterly bound in hard covers, only 4 issues of Eros were produced. Ginzberg had initially promoted the magazine by sending three million direct mail circulars. In response to this, Ginzberg received approximately 10,000 unsolicited letters expressing opinions both pro and con with regard to the proposed magazine. In addition, the Postmaster General received 25,000 letters of complaint from citizens who had received the mailer. Soon thereafter (with a 5th issue of Eros in production), Ginzberg was served with an indictment accusing him "sending obscene matter through the mails" in violation of the Comstock Act of 1873. The indictment was based on a book published by an affiliate of Eros magazine though Ginzberg believed it was an indirect attempt to hamper the production of his magazine.

In December of 1963, Ginzberg was sentenced to serve 5 years for sending "obscene" literature through the mail. The trial and subsequent appeals dragged on for another 10 years. On February 17th of 1972, Ginzberg began serving a five-year sentence at the Lewisburg Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. He was paroled eight months later.

The Eros Collection consists of two boxes containing 17 archival folders divided into two series: 1) Correspondence including comments and letters sent to Eros magazine and its publishers in response to the initial Eros mailer; 2) Promotional information and news clippings dealing with Eros magazine and the 1963 trial and subsequent appeals of Ralph Ginzberg (1960's - 1970's). The Kinsey Institute library collection contains Eros magazine vol.1,no.1 - vol 1., no.4 (1962) --http://www.indiana.edu/~kinsey/library/eros.html

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