The Harcourt Bindery DVDs

July 15, 2007
Dear Fellow GBW members and friends,

Our building and many adjacent buildings were sold recently to be turning into condominiums. Over a year ago The Harcourt Bindery was told that its lease would note be renewed, and that a move this summer was inevitable. The company was founded in 1900, and had only moved twice before: during World War I the shop moved to 9-11 Harcourt Street in Copley Square, Boston after a fire at 13-15 Harcourt Street; in 1986 the bindery moved to a similar sized space in a turn-of-the-century building in the old leather and wool district in downtown Boston, an area noted for printers, artists and other creative, manufacturing industries.

To stay in Boston after our move this summer means that Harcourt has to downsize. We’ve been the largest for-profit hand-bindery in the U.S. for decades and will remain so; yet at one time we were simply one among many such binderies which existed throughout the country. As the last in a long tradition, I believed that the company should be documented, and that several of the techniques which we employed over our century should be preserved.

Money was made available for the filming of 2 DVDs, which have now been fully edited. Each runs well over an hour. The first is called “Bookbinding at The Harcourt Bindery, 2006.” It traces how we bind and decorate a basic cloth and leather book, giving a sense of what the bindery looks like, its array of equipment and machinery, and the techniques we use for the production of our books. The second DVD, “Nineteenth Century Bookbinding Techniques at The Harcourt Bindery,” attempts to show how production speed goes hand in hand with producing a quality product. How could 100 or more multi-volume sets, bound in full leather with doublures and silk flys, along with rich spine tooling be done so quickly and so competently as to be profitable and admirable? There is no reason why binders today cannot cover 15-20 full leather bindings in a morning as once was done. This DVD shows some of the production efficiencies used, all of which are still valid today.

Each of the DVDs will be reviewed in the Guild Newsletter.
They are priced at $15.00 each + $3.00 for shipping and postage.
To order one or both, please send the relevant amount made payable to:

Sam Ellenport
205 School St.
Belmont, MA 02478

Orders will ship on receipt.
If you prefer, I can arrange billing through Paypal. Just send an email to.


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