Blue plaque on Highbury home of office copying pioneer

A BLUE plaque has been placed on the former family home of an Islington entrepreneur who revolutionised office copying technology.

English Heritage has installed the plaque at Highbury New Park to honour David Gestetner who invented the stencil duplicator which allowed businesses to copy numerous documents and who lived at the address from 1898 up until his death in 1939.

Jonathan Gestetner, who watched the unveiling with his grandchildren Harry and Henrietta, said: “I am very proud to see this blue plaque installed in honour of my grandfather, he was a pioneer in his industry and built a family business that saw my father work alongside him. It is wonderful to see his legacy linked to this house where he spent so many happy years.”

Known as DG, David Gestetner was born in Hungary in 1854 and moved to London where in 1881 he invented a pen with a tiny sharp-toothed rotating wheel that was used to make a perforated stencil, through which ink was forced to make copies. A trained operator could produce a good-quality copy every 10 seconds, and the innovation soon transformed clerical work. Gestetner applied the formula for typewriters and opened a factory in Cross Street, Islington.

The company remained under family ownership until the 1980s.

English Heritage blue plaque historian Howard Spencer said: “David Gestetner is an outstanding example of a London immigrant success story, having built up an internationally successful business from nothing more than a sharp idea. The advances he made in mechanised copying revolutionised office life all over the world.”

David Gestetner was married to Sophie and they had seven children. He also lived for 12 years in Ferntower Road, Canonbury.