Ali Osborn, 30, is a resident printer at Bowne Printers, at 209 Water St. Dating back to 1775, the shop prints everything from wood types, blocks and plates to cards, posters and invitations. It is also part of the Seaport Museum.
What is it like to work here?
It's an interesting experience because you're operating and having this relationship with a machine that was manufactured over 100 years ago. We only have one press that is from the 20th century, but everything else is from the 19th century, and it means that you're engaging with this machinery that hundreds of people over the years have used. That's a really cool feeling to know that the equipment that was built back then was really built to last and it's a pretty nice experience. Also what I love is the fact that almost all of the stuff we do is using presses that are powered by using our arm or our foot and they would work even if electricity went out.
How's it been since Superstorm Sandy?
The store got two feet of water and we were lucky we didn't get more than that because a lot of the machinery we have or the real sensitive components of them are above two feet. We did have a lot of drawers and types flooded and that had to be cleaned taken care of. We had a really great response from the community, hundreds of volunteers poured in over the weeks following and that was really essential to getting it done because a lot of the things we we're working on were time sensitive. So everything had to be cleaned really quickly before any traces of mold caught.
Any notable customers?
Because our history dates as far back as 1775, that original Bowne and Co., there's a lot of descendants of the Robert Bowne family and pretty frequently we'll have people come in and say, 'I'm a Bowne.' And that's cool because you can show them the legacy that still exists today. Because we're in a historic building and location, we sometimes get people of some notoriety. Ethan Hawke is probably the biggest star we printed for.