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Bowne & Co. Stationers & Printers, A Place That Matters

bowne company stationers

Bowne & Co. Stationers & Printers at 211 Water St. in downtown Manhattan, part of the South St. Seaport Museum.

The South Street Seaport Museum operates Bowne & Co. as an exhibit and working retail store that recreates a late 19th century printing shop. At one time, 800 such shops crowded the blocks stretching from Bowne’s to “Publisher’s Row” near City Hall. Bowne’s master printer and curator Robert Warner can tell you how the terms “upper and lower case” originated. He can also make you custom stationary, invitations, and more, using authentic, hand-operated presses.

Founded in 1775, the original Bowne & Co. is today an international printing company, and the oldest existing company to operate under its original name in NYC. The 1975 recreation of Bowne & Co. at 211 Water St. marked the company’s bicentennial, and was made possible by the creation of the South St. Seaport Museum in 1967. Its building once housed a cast iron parlor stove store, so the structure can bear the weight of the heavy presses and type. Thanks to the designation of a South St. Seaport Historic District in 1977, Bowne’s is surrounded by buildings that preserve a glimpse of the 19th century city.