The Return of Bowne & Co.

I had never been inside Bowne & Co. Stationers, part of the Seaport Museum, but not for any good reason (excluding that it was closed for the past nine months while the Seaport Museum got sorted out). So when reader Pauline pointed out that the shop had reopened, I got on over to 211 Water Street. I loved it! Of course I would, given that I tend to love anything involving paper, and that goes double for letterpress. Why hadn’t I been there before?

Director Robert Warner is a character in all the right ways, chatting up the folks who came in to buy cards and postcards (I purchased several of each), gift wrap, and so on. His love for printing is obvious: He explained that the bats in the “Boo!” cards pictured below are different on each card, an effect he achieved by releasing the thingamajig at a crucial point during the whatsit. To say the shop is an ode to the handmade is an understatement: Even the credit-card device is one of those old-fashioned ones that uses carbon paper.

In celebration of its reopening, Bowne & Co. is letting patrons have five free buttons. (Yes, buttons—like the kind sewn on clothes.) “We thought fewer than five would be cheap,” explained Warner. “But more than that seemed excessive.”

The shop is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Custom orders will once again be accepted sometime in 2012.

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