01 May 2010

Leslie Buck, designer of icons, dies in New York

via Wallyq on Flickr

Before Starbucks invaded New York City, you could still get a cup of coffee on every corner. The chances were that you'd walk away with that coffee in a paper cup that celebrated the Greek heritage of the person who sold you your coffee. I never knew this until I read his obituary, but that cup was called the Anthora Cup and it was made by Solo. The cup made its debut in the 1960s and Solo stopped making them for good in 2006.

From CNN:
Angie Gorman, Director of Communications at Solo Cup Co., told CNN that Solo now owns Sherri Cup Co., where Buck first designed the cup in the early 1960s. The cup can still be custom ordered, but demand for the cup tapered off in the new century and Solo decided to officially discontinue the product from its catalog in 2006.

Born Laszlo Büch in present-day Ukraine in 1922, Buck arrived in America a refugee of Nazi Germany after World War II. He lost his parents to the Nazis, but he survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His daughter describes him as a self-made man, "He came here with nothing, no parents, no job, no savings. He had nothing."

But that didn't stop him. "Because of what he suffered in the concentration camps he was somebody who really believed in respecting humanity, really was about loving your neighbor and respecting your neighbor," his daughter said.

It was this respect that led him to spend hours in the library, researching Greek history and design. He wanted to honor the heritage of the Greek diner owners who bought his products and gave him his livelihood.

His design features three steaming golden cups of coffee, and the essential phrase 'We are happy to serve you" bordered by two Greek Amphora vases. Buck's children say his Eastern European accent transformed "Amphora" to "Anthora," and that's how it's known today.

The Museum of Modern Art sells a ceramic version of the Anthora Cup and I have three of them. Despite the fact that I'm not a New Yorker, New Yorkers' appetite for nostalgia is contagious. Thanks for the  accidental icon Leslie Buck.


  1. I have the ceramic version, too. Non-NYCers don't seem to know what it is, but it makes me smile. :)

  2. Mine are an inside joke for the most part, but every once in a while a New Yorker will be around and he'll squeal with delight when he sees my cups.

  3. It is a wonderful story really!!

    Art by Karena

  4. It is a great story, thanks Karena!


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