RIP: Leslie Buck, Designer of the Anthora Coffee Cup
If you’re a New Yorker, odds are you’ve held one of Leslie Buck’s designs in your hands. Buck — who died earlier this week at the age of 87 — was the man behind the iconic blue, white, and gold coffee cups that you can still find at many bodegas and food carts around the city. Its proper name: the Anthora. (As his son explained to the New York Times , the name derives from the amphora vases flanking the cup’s exterior; in his father’s Eastern European accent, it sounded more like “anthora.”)
Buck — who had no formal training in art — opted for a Grecian-looking cup because so many of the city’s diners and coffee shops were owned by Greeks back in the ’60s. The cup’s friendly inscription (“WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU”) in Classical script is perhaps its most identifying trait. He made no royalties on his design for the Sherri Cup company, where he was a director of marketing at the time, but he did profit off of the increase in sales.
As Serious Eats noted last June, Anthora sightings have become increasingly rare in recent years, with the cups being replaced by random misprints. If that has you worried, you can buy them in bulk ($69 for 200 cups and lids) here. Or you can opt for a piece of ceramic homage. Either way, we think the news of Buck’s passing warrants a ceremonial coffee pour.