They had problems, too

Tucked into my copy of The Undergraduate and the Graphic Arts by Ray Nash, graphic arts educator and historian, are two clippings advertising the talk Nash gave for the Heritage of the Graphic Arts series at Gallery 303, The Composing Room, 130 West 46th Street, NYC, on 23 April, 1969. 

This series grew out of the activities of the Typophiles, under the stewardship of the remarkable Dr. Robert Leslie. (Erin Malone’s wonderful research first introduced me to Dr. Leslie years back.) Apprenticed to the great Theodore Low De Vinne, Leslie continued to work in the printing industry while he put himself through medical school. Appointed McGraw-Hill’s first industrial doctor, Leslie lost his eye in a chemical explosion at their printing plant in Manhattan. Giving up medicine (his wife, obsetrician and gynecologist Sarah Greenberg, the “Angel of Williamsburg”, claimed there was only room for one doctor in their marriage), Leslie returned to the printing industry, soon opening The Composing Room, a typesetting business, with linotype operator Sol Cantor. Leslie championed the work of European emigrés fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe, launching their American careers in his magazine PM (later re-named A-D.) His gallery was the first to showcase graphic and typographic art in the US. Late in life, realising a long-held dream, he established Uncle Bob’s Paper Mill in the Negev Desert, Israel, producing paper made with mitan, a locally-grown fibre. An enthusiastic Typophile, he instituted trips to places of typographic interest that he dubbed “junkets”; the attendees “junketeers.” 

Ray Nash, eminent teacher at Dartmouth College, gave his talk about 16th century printers and their methods at Leslie’s gallery. One of the clippings I have advertising his talk features a formal photo of Nash in profile, and the wonderful headline: They had problems, too.

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