Leslie Buck passed away, at the ripe old age of 87, during 2010, and inexplicably enough, not that many paid much attention to his passing.
Born Lazlo Buch in Khust, Czechoslovakia (now part of the Ukraine), he was a Holocaust survivor who made good in the US, first starting up a paper-cup manufacturing company in Mt Vernon, New York called Premier Cup. It was during the 1960’s that Buck joined the Sherri Cup Co. of Kensington, Conn, and he created one of the most iconic delineation’s of everyday American life, particularly the East Coast version, the exquisitely appealing Anthora paper coffee cup (Buck couldn’t quite pronounce “amphora” correctly), the design adorning coffees served at diners, deli’s, construction sights, factory yards and food carts, sales which peaked at 30 million pieces a year in the 1990’s.
Buck’s coffee cup became an instantly recognizable American artifact, a fairly improbable accomplishment considering its creator was both an immigrant, and artistically untrained. The cup, with its above-and-below border of Greek urns framing a bill boarded white background with a slightly ornate outline, three images of piping coffee cups and the phrase “WE Are Happy To Serve You” etched in a font meant to resemble ancient Greek, remains a totemistic likeness of the highest order.