Paul A. Bennett Joins Ranks of Typographic Greats

Paul A. Bennett“To Paul A. Bennett, who, by his enthusiasm and knowledge and through the inspiration of his warm friendships on the whole of this continent and in Europe, has extended the horizons of fine printing; and who, over the imprint of the Typophiles, has been the sole fountainhead for a notable series of books in the graphic arts produced con amore by the craftsmen of his time.”

Thus read the citation to the “top” Typophile on the occasion of the presentation of the coveted medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, on June 21, at the Grolier Club in New York City.

Paul Bennett now joins the typographic greats who have been similarly honored in our time—such men as Goudy, Dwiggins, Rogers, Morison, Updike, and Rollins. To his multitude of friends, of course, such an honor is completely justified, as he has long been one of the important typographic figures of our time.

As a writer and lecturer Bennett has plugged for typographic excellence for some 35 years, both as a vocation and an avocation. Indeed, it is difficult to determine just where each leaves off. As director of typographic promotion of Mergenthaler Linotype Co., PAB has had a direct concern in urging the acceptance of high standards in American typography. In this connection he has traveled widely since 1926, when he first became connected with Mergenthaler.

He is a happy man who can be equally effective at work and at play. To Paul Bennett, his “play” represents a continuation of his love affair with typography. There is, for example, the Typophiles. This term, coined by the late Arthur W. Rushmore, has been explained as, “Paul Bennett surrounded by a body of printing enthusiasts.” By any definition, the Typophiles represents Paul Bennett’s most lasting contribution to typography.

The group is, first of all, informal. There is no constitution, by-laws, board of directors, or officers. As an organization it exists purely in Bennett’s head, plus a little black book for keeping track of funds. The Typophiles began as a luncheon group 30 years ago. It included people who were primarily interested in type and were happy to talk about it, even at lunch. From this beginning sprang a series of books. They were at first simply keepsakes for special meetings, but were finally formalized into a Chapbook Program. The 38th book in this series was delivered to some 350 members in September.

While Bennett sparks every one of these chapbooks, they are all individually produced by members and friends, representing a publishing program without equal. Every single volume is now a collector’s item, and some of the most distinguished American printers have contributed to their publication. Although keeping track of this output has never been a simple undertaking, Paul Bennett has retained his good humor, and is still full of plans for future publications.

Typophiles who do not live in New York and, therefore, do not have the opportunity to drop in at the Wednesday luncheons have learned one important item. They do not badger Mr. B. for information. They merely await each mailing with as much fortitude as they can maintain. They are never disappointed; out of the package spills a hatful of typographic gems—every time. In addition to the chapbook there are always numerous pieces representing the best in American typography.

Small wonder, then, that the AIGA has finally cited Mr. Bennett as its Medalist for 1961. The Typophiles, “this band of brothers,” feels itself honored and proud to have its own Paul Bennett so singled out.

This article first appeared in the January 1962 issue of The Inland Printer/American Lithographer.

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