The Original Typophile

Paul A. Bennett, 1897–1966, advertising executive, typography director for Mergenthaler Linotype Company, founder of the Typophiles.

Paul A. Bennett
Portrait of Paul A. Bennett, taken by A. Burton Carnes. Courtesy of Jerry Kelly.

The New York Times headline for Paul Bennett’s obituary called him simply “typography expert,”1Obituary, New York Times, December 19, 1966, p 37. as befitted this man who had spent virtually his entire life involved in “advertising, printing and printing machinery”2McKay, George and Francis Harvey, Paul Bennett: Dean of the Typophiles, Print Magazine, December 1953, p.9–16. and around a great many industry luminaries. Bennett grew up in New York City, where his grandfather had a print shop. (And he might have entered the family business, too, but for the collapse of the building in which it operated.) As a teenager, his job setting type for advertisements for Paul B. Hoeber, a book seller and medical publisher, brought him into contact with Frederic Goudy and the two men became friends. Enlistment in the army at age 19 made Bennett briefly a machine gunner, but after his discharge, he returned to printing and took a job as director of Typography for Fuller & Smith, the largest advertising agency in Cleveland. He gained selling and advertising experience at two more firms in Cleveland, before Goudy asked him to return to New York as head of advertising and printing for his old boss Hoeber. The job with Hoeber didn’t last, but a 30-year association with the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in Brooklyn began, and Bennett started meeting casually with other men in the industry for lunch. The group were sometimes referred to as the Biblio-Beef-Eaters and later became known as the Typophiles.3Ibid. McKay, George and Harvey.

Paul A. Bennett and Robert L. Leslie, head of the Composing Room and sponsor of Gallery 303’s ‘Heritage of the Graphic Arts’ lectures.


Bennett with Robert L. Leslie. All photographs by A. Burton Carnes, courtesy of Jerry Kelly.
Paul A. Bennett


Bennett at a ‘Heritage of the Graphic Arts’ lecture by John Dreyfus about Jan Van Krimpen, 1965. Phil Grushkin (with mustache) sits behind him.

President of the National Arts Club John Clyde Oswald famously described The Typophiles as a body of men surrounded by Paul Bennett.4Diamant, E.M., et. al., Encomium from a collection of tributes to Paul Bennett, n.d. and that remained pretty much the case until Bennett’s sudden death from a heart attack in 1966. The gregarious, bicycle-race-loving football enthusiast5Ibid. McKay and Harvey organized its activities, coordinated the production of its highly-coveted Chap Books and wrote its separately published Chap Book Commentaries. Bennett was the keeper of the secret Chap Book subscriber list. When Hortense Mendel died, Bennett dispassionately conferred with Bob Leslie about whether to send her Chap Books to her widower or “make the spot available”6 Letter from Paul A. Bennett to Robert L. Leslie, October 20, 1960, Typophiles, Inc. records, Series II: Robert Leslie papers, box 80, folder 11, New York Public Library. to someone else. In addition to his tireless work for the Typophiles, Bennett wrote extensively in several publications of the day, gave lectures on graphic arts for New York University and traversed North America, promoting Linotype faces.

Hortense Mendel and Ismar David produced a keepsake for Bennett. David lettered the cover of the 26th Chap Book Commentary in 1955.

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