Mercantile’s print fair celebrates 10th anniversary

For a few brief days this spring, the J.C. Penney Conference Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis will transform into an art, print and book lover’s dream, with colorful booths greeting visitors around every corner.

A Full Life

Peggy Bacon (1895 –1987), “A Full Life,” proof, drypoint, 1942. (Image courtesy of the estate of the artist and Susan Teller Gallery)

The St. Louis Fine Print, Rare Book and Paper Arts Fair, presented by the St. Louis Mercantile Library at UMSL, returns May 6-8, marking a milestone this year with its 10th annual event. From the first fair, held within the library itself in 2007, to its current expanded location in the adjacent J.C. Penney building on UMSL’s North Campus, the fair has grown steadily in size and attendance.

“When we established the St. Louis Print Fair after the long hiatus that followed the closing of the St. Louis Print Market, we had no idea how quickly the fair would grow into a new national print event, one now anticipated each spring,” said John Hoover, executive director of the Mercantile Library. “It was logical, considering the library’s vast fine print and rare book collections, to broaden the format of the fair to include dealers in all these historic objects.”


Charles Bird King (1785-1862), Chippeway Squaw & Child, from “McKenney and Hall: History of the Indian Tribes of North America” (Philadelphia: 1837-1844).

Over its 10-year history, the fair has built a roster of exemplary national and local dealers while always welcoming new participants to broaden the array of offerings presented to the St. Louis audience.

“We are fortunate to have had the long-term support of premier dealers both locally and from across the country who have contributed to building the fair’s audience and reputation, and we’re delighted to have five new dealers who were inspired by our past success to request a booth this year,” said Julie Dunn-Morton, curator of fine art collections at the Mercantile Library. “The changing roster of dealers insures that each year’s fair is new and exciting for all our visitors.”

Among the returning national dealers this year are New York’s Susan Teller Gallery featuring American art of the 1930s and ’40s and The Old Print Shop specializing in 19th- and 20th-century prints and maps. Aaron Galleries from Chicago features works by renowned American regionalists, modernists and abstract artists; Stevens Fine Art from Arizona offers 19th- and 20th-century American art; and the Philadelphia Print Shop’s two locations in Pennsylvania and Colorado include 18th- and 19th-century prints and maps among their offerings.

Prominent local dealers are regulars at the Fair, including Anthony Garnett with his antiquarian, first-edition and international book titles; Judith Haudrich Antique Prints specializing in 17th- to 19th-century botanical and historical subjects; Kodner Gallery featuring 19th- and 20th-century paintings and prints; and McCaughen & Burr specializing in paintings and prints by regional and Missouri artists.

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Homestead (In the Ozarks), lithograph, 1938. (Image courtesy of the estate of the artist and Stevens Fine Art)

Barbara Martin Smith Watercolors and Juliette Travous Pastels, both of St. Louis, are returning artists, while Firecracker Press of St. Louis and Murray Hudson Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Globes from Halls, Tenn., will also be returning. New art dealers include William P. Carl Fine Prints of Durham, S.C., and William Talbot Fine Art from Santa Fe, N.M., while new book dealers include Kronologë from Texas and First Folio from Tennessee.

The fair is held annually on the first weekend in May, beginning this year with a preview party on Friday evening, May 6, and continuing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. That last day, which is also Mother’s Day (May 8), include complimentary frozen custard from Ted Drewes, a free “send a postcard in honor of your mom” event, a special tour of the Mercantile Library and demonstrations by participating artists.

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

The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri–St. Louis 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.


Short URL: