Mercantile Library’s 2012 print fair has a few surprises

“The Jolly Flatboatmen” was created in 1846 by George Caleb Bingham (1811 – 1879). Prints such as this one and much more will be available at the St. Louis Mercantile Library's annual Fine Print, Rare Book and Paper Arts Fair May 4, 5 and 6.The fair is held in the J.C. Penney Conference Center at UMSL.

Now in its sixth year, the St. Louis Mercantile Library’s annual Fine Print, Rare Book and Paper Arts Fair attracts a throng of enthusiastic patrons and customers interested in viewing and buying an Audubon print, an antique map or historic photo. But fair organizers have added a few surprises this year to appeal to an even wider audience.

“We’ve broadened the range of materials even more,” said Julie Dunn-Morton, curator of fine art collections at the Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “Some of our returning dealers are bringing works by more contemporary and modern artists, and we’ve added dealers who offer vintage rock and roll posters and 19th century greeting and trade cards. Three of our dealers are offering free demonstrations at the booths, which is also new this year.”

Twenty-two local and national print and rare book dealers will display their art, books, and ephemera from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 5 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 6 in the J.C. Penney Conference Center at UMSL. Admission is $5 per day, $2.50 for UMSL Alumni Association members, and $1.50 for students.

An opening night benefit preview of the print fair will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 4 and will include a silent auction. Preview tickets are $50 per person or $90 per couple at the door. A preview ticket also includes admission on Saturday and Sunday.

“The St. Louis Fine Print and Paper Arts Fair provides area collectors the opportunity to view and purchase exemplary prints and rare books offered by regional and national dealers, all in one convenient location,” said John Hoover, director of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at UMSL.

Local and national dealers will offer rare first editions, manuscripts, unique works by fine art presses and other rare books. Several new dealers have been added to a distinguished list including the Worthington Gallery in Chicago, known for its German Expressionist art and Rob’s Coins and Currency in Chesterfield, nationally known for its vintage paper currency and Civil War era coins.

Also new to the fair are demonstrations by three St. Louis artists: The Firecracker Press, a graphic design studio and letterpress print shop; Daven Anderson Watercolors; and Paper Birds, a book design, binding and artwork studio and gallery.

Expected exhibitors include: Platt Fine Arts, Chicago; Kodner Gallery, St. Louis; Susan Teller Gallery, New York; The Old Print Shop, New York; and Green Gate Farm Antiquarian Books, Richmond, Mo.

Proceeds from the preview and fair will benefit the Mercantile Library collections acquisition and conservation funds. For more information call 314-516-6740 or visit

The St. Louis Mercantile Library at UMSL is the oldest cultural institution in Missouri and the oldest library in continuous existence west of the Mississippi River. Founded by philanthropic businessmen in the 1840s as a subscription library, the Mercantile is a library of American history and culture whose collections include manuscripts, books, maps, and art. It contains the largest research collection in North America on railroad history and inland waterways heritage, as well as one of the largest collections of rare and documentary photographs, historic newspapers and archives in the state of Missouri.


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