Gestetner, David

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GESTETNER, DAVID (1854–1939), British industrialist. Born in Csorna, Hungary, he was the inventor of the cyclostyle duplicating process and was credited with being the founder of modern stencil duplicating. At 17, chafing at the monotony of clerking on the Vienna Stock Exchange, he went to New York, where, after experimenting with papers for duplicating, he moved on to London to sell his invention and set up business. The firm he founded now has worldwide branches and factories, employing thousands of people. Entering communal life, he was a founder of the Green Lanes Synagogue, London (1897). sigmund (1897–1956), David's son, was chairman and managing director of the Gestetner business when he was 23, and made a name as a progressive industrialist. Influenced by Chaim Weizmann, he was a devoted Zionist, and as chairman of the *Keren Hayesod in England at the time of the Nazi regime in Germany, he helped Jewish craftsmen to escape, and through the *Central British Fund for German Jewry and the Children's Movement, he helped to resettle refugees. He served in the army in World War i, and in World War ii his factory did war work and he organized the Balfour Club for the Jewish Forces in London. He was treasurer of the Jewish National Fund in Britain in 1949 and became its president in 1950. He was treasurer of the Joint Palestine Appeal and honorary treasurer of the Weizmann Institute Foundation. He was also a successful farmer, and loaned his farm to the Zionist movement for training agricultural pioneers bound for Ereẓ Israel.


The Times, London (March 16, 1939; April 21, 1956). add. bibliography: odnb online; dbb, 2, 519–25.

[John M. Shaftesley]