Leslie, Robert L.

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LESLIE, ROBERT L. (1885–1987), U.S. typographic expert. Leslie was born in New York to a Polish mother and a Scottish father. He graduated from City College with a B.S. in 1904 and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1912, after working as an apprentice at De Vinne Press, a teacher, a social worker, and a proofreader at the Baltimore Sun. Upon receiving his medical degree, Leslie worked as a doctor for the Public Health Service, where he redesigned all the government publications for the Surgeon General's Office. In 1920 he moved back to New York, where he became the first industrial doctor in the city. He worked for the McGraw Hill Company and eventually left the medical field when he realized that printing was his real passion.

In 1927 Leslie and Sol M. Cantor (1892–1965) formed a typesetting firm, The Composing Room, Inc., in New York, specializing in books for publishers throughout the U.S. In the early 1930s, Leslie created PM magazine with co-editor Percy Seitlin. In 1936, in the office of the Composing Room, he created the A-D Gallery, which was the first place in New York City dedicated to exhibiting the graphic and typographic arts. In 1958, after the war, it was reactivated and renamed Gallery 303.

Leslie introduced novel promotion techniques to further the graphic arts, bringing graphic artists together to form typographic design clinics. The Composing Room provided a wide variety of typefaces. Thousands of separate fonts were available for hand, machine, and photocomposition. Among the typographic experts was Ismar David, designer of the Hebrew typeface "David."

After retiring as president of the Composing Room in 1969, Leslie helped set up Uncle Bob's Paper Mill in Israel in 1971.

Among his many honors and awards, Leslie received the 1st Annual American Printing History Association Award in 1976, as well as the New York Printers Wall of Fame and Type Directors Club Medal.

[Israel Soifer /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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Leslie, Robert L.

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