The Plimpton Press: “Perfect Book Making in its Entirety”

“Perfect Book Making in its Entirety” was a slogan the Plimpton Press used in an advertisement they placed in a 1912 edition of The Publishers Weekly, hoping to attract customers to their printing business. At that time, the notion of one-stop printing was a relatively new idea, and hopefully new clients would find this service convenient. The Plimpton Press opened its Norwood facility in 1897, and they specialized in printing textbooks, but they were also known for the production of handmade special edition books. Herbert Plimpton loved cutting edge technology, and used it whenever he could. His Norwood facility was considered a very modern facility; it generated its own electricity, making it the first printing company to install their own electric motors. The workspace was seen as roomy, well-ventilated, clean, light, and airy, making it a pleasant space for people to work.

Workers at the Plimpton Press (from the collection of the Norwood Historical Society)

Herbert M. Plimpton of Walpole first established his printing business  in Boston in 1882. Soon after opening the Norwood plant, the Plimpton Press became one of the largest employers in Norwood. Over the next ten years two additions and two new buildings were added to the Lenox Street facility, and as the business grew, Herbert Plimpton decided to move all his of book making production from Boston to Norwood. In 1904 he began construction on one of the larger additions to the Lenox Street building. In the 1910s, the Plimpton Press grew slowly and steadily. In the 1920s, the Plimpton Press had one of its most successful decades. At that time, it reached its peak employment rate of 1,025 workers and produced over 50,000 books a day. They expanded again in 1924 to include a subsidiary plant in LaPorte, Indiana. In 1961, the citizens of the town voted in a special town meeting to close portions of Lenox and Rock Streets so the Plimpton Press could enlarge their facilities. By the 1970s, the Plimpton Press stretched several blocks in Norwood, running along the railroad tracks between Guild Street and just shy of Nahanan Street.

The Plimpton Press Building came down in the summer of 2018.

The Plimpton Press ran for seventy-five years; publishing textbooks, bibles, fiction, and special edition books. When the company first started, it used the most up-to-date technology for making books; in fact, they were responsible for creating some of that cutting edge technology. In the end a declining demand for textbooks and greater competition, paired with changing printing technologies led to the end the Plimpton Press, they finally shut their Norwood doors in October of 1973.

The Plimpton Bros. –>

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