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Robert Lincoln Leslie, (1885–1987)

Goudy Award Winner 5, 1973

Robert Lincoln Leslie, born in New York's lower east side on December 18, 1885, graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1904, and studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University, receiving his degree in 1912. The expenses for his medical courses were met by working in the famous old printing office of Theodore Low DeVinne. Since DeVinne was both America's best known practical printer and its first great typographic historian, it is probable that the strong influence of such association had some relationship to the decision made by Dr. Leslie to return to printing, which he did following four years of service with the United States Health Service.

He became co-owner of a small typesetting plant which was later sold to the American Book-Stratford Press, where he served four years as director of design and sales. Then, as a partner in Composing Room, a New York typographic shop, Dr. Leslie's printing career began in earnest and continues to the present time, although he retired from business in 1969.

"Doc," as he is known to his countless friends, has been an outstanding promoter of typography and design, and even more importantly has devoted his considerable energy to aiding young people to become established in the graphic arts, as a teacher of evening courses and as advisor and consultant to New York University, and to Cooper Union.

As editor and publisher of the magazine PM, later called AD, he specialized in showing work of the younger designers, later continuing this activity with his Gallery 303, the first exhibition hall devoted to the promotion of new arts talent.

It was at this gallery that he offered the splendid group of lectures known as the Heritage of the Graphic Arts. During the past decade Dr. Leslie has brought to this platform all of the important typographical scholars of our time, resulting in what is probably the most memorable and informative series of talks on the art of the printer ever presented in the United States. Some two hundred lectures have been delivered by authorities from Europe and the United States. It has always been obvious that the speakers them; selves have been inspired by Doc's great enthusiasm for the world of printing. In 1972 a number of the lectures were assembled for a book, Heritage of the Graphic Arts.

Dr. Leslie's distinguished career has long been recognized, and he has received numerous honors for his notable efforts on behalf of his fellow printers. In 1969 he was presented with the Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, joining such historic figures as Daniel Berkeley Updike. Frederic W. Goudy, Bruce Rogers, and Stanley Morison. Another of his awards is the Services-to-Industry Award of the Navigators.

Here, then, is one of the best loved graphic arts figures of our time, and it is indeed fitting that a career so devoted to service be honored by an award made in memory of a man of similar attributes, Frederic W. Goudy.

The text from this online exhibition is derived from Twenty Years of the Goudy Award, a publication produced at the RIT School of Printing in 1988.