Herbert and Howard Plimpton formed the “Security Manufacturing Company,” a division of the Plimpton Press, on Lenox Street in Norwood in 1893. In 1895, they changed the name to Holliston Mills.  The company’s product was a flexible glue called “Glutino” that was used in bookbinding, however, before 1900, they began to manufacture the cloth for book-covers. The decision to add this new product line may have had something to do with the fact that in 1900, a patent application was filed for a “machine for casing-in books”, which was a machine that covered cardboard with fabric making bookcovers, and the primary inventors of this machine were Herbert, Lewis and Howard Plimpton. At the time, the majority of book fabric came from England, by adding book cloth manufacturing to their business and offering an American made product, they could most likely save their potential buyers import fees and shipping costs. Holliston Mills geared up to make and sell book cloth quickly. By 1905, they offered “book-cloth of all kinds in immense quantities,” and it became the main product of Holliston Mills, as the contracted Glutino out to another company to make and sell.

Four Great Mills.

The 1920s was a decade of rapid expansion for Holliston Mills; even with a recently built updated and modern facility in Norwood they found they still needed more space.  In 1923, Holliston Mills became associated with the East Braintree Finishing Company, owned by Henry McCusker. Holliston Mills contracted to have McCusker’s company do the bulk of the bleaching; as this was done locally, it saved time and money. By 1927, Holliston Mills opened their own bleachery in Kingsport, Tennessee, however, they also fitted the Braintree plant with equipment for finishing specialty fabrics.

Color swatches from Holliston Mills sample book

In 1940, Plimpton sold Holliston Mills to Thomas McCusker, who continued to grow the company. McCusker was the son of owner of the East Braintree Finishing Company. He added 2 more mills in Massachusetts, and created new products lines which were not just for book making. Going into the war years Holliston Mills played an important role in the war effort as they produced waterproof duck cloth for tents. In 1960, all manufacturing at the Norwood plant ceased and was done at their Kingsport plant, which continues making book cloth to this day.

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