SPRING, 2017
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Emma Bourne, America – A Nation of One People From Many Countries, 1940.

Colors on the Map: Pictographic Cartography at the Mercantile Library

The Mercantile Library recently added a significant example of pictographic cartography to its growing collection of pictorial maps.  This genre was particularly popular at mid-century with maps that focused on travel promotion, popular science, and social history in delightful and memorable ways. These fascinating maps are found in the river, rail and fine art collections, making this a rich holding for the Library and a unique resource for researchers.
This map was created by Emma Bourne and published by the Council Against Intolerance in America who commissioned the work to remind Americans that the United States has traditionally defined itself as a country of immigrants whose varied ethnic traditions contributed to its rich cultural diversity. Bourne incorporated flowing red ribbons to indicate where various groups were located across the country, but she removed state boundaries to present the country as a unified whole, woven through with the influence of many cultures.

Watch for more fascinating pictorial maps in the Mercantile Library’s upcoming exhibition Colors on the Map: Pictorial Cartography at the Mercantile Library tentatively scheduled for fall 2019.

Guests enjoyed a sneak preview of the exhibition Tern Press: Printing and Illustrating Timeless English Literature and the Art of Nicholas and Mary Parry at the Bixby Valentine's Dinner at the Mercantile.  

Members Celebrate Their Love for Books
at the Bixby Club Valentine's Event

Members of the Mercantile celebrated the holiday at the Library this year at the Bixby Book Club Valentine's Party, with a special viewing of Tern PressPrinting And Illustrating Timeless English Literature and the Art of Nicholas and Mary Parry, now on display at the Mercantile.   Director John Hoover brought out several items from the vault for a special showing of the Mercantile’s vast holdings.  In honor of Abraham Lincoln’s upcoming birthday, he even brought out for a rare viewing the Lincoln Medallion, which had at one time been displayed on the President’s Funeral Hearse.  ​*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*

Named for key St. Louis businessman and philanthropist William K. Bixby, the Bixby Book Club membership level provides members access to exclusive events throughout the year at the Mercantile Library.  The opportunity for bookish conversation and colloquia related to book collecting and preservation helps to continue the longstanding Bixby Book Club tradition.  Mark your calendars: October 27, 2017 the Mercantile will hold a Bixby  Book Club Halloween event at the Library. Not yet a member?  Visit our membership page to join today! *|END:IF|*


Adulterations of Liquor by E.C. Delavan, Esq.

Digitizing the John Mason Peck Collection

Mercantile Library staff and student workers continue to make steady progress on a digital imaging grant through the Missouri State Library as part of ongoing efforts to help researchers more easily access our materials though digital use copies. The focus of this grant is the John Mason Peck Collection, which was one of the most significant acquisitions during the Mercantile Library’s early years and remains a true jewel of the collection.​*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*

John Mason Peck was a prominent Baptist missionary and educator in the St. Louis region in the early 1800s. He also avidly wrote about and collected writings on a variety of issues that captured the public attention at the time. As such, this collection contains fascinating runs of publications from churches and newspapers, some extremely rare today, as well as many one-time publications of pamphlets and articles. Among these pamphlets researchers will find extensive materials on abolition, a cause that Peck advocated loudly, the rights of states and territories as the United States expanded westward, and more, as seem above.

Public religious debates of the day were often communicated via pamphlets distributed to societies and congregations as well as open letters in newspapers and public speeches. It might not be surprising to us to know that scholars and laymen alike worked themselves into a lather over topics like “When will the world end?” But it might surprise them to know it is still a topic up for discussion – partially because, as you can see from the included image – some didn’t think this day would come to even have the debate!

Another frequently published topic from Peck’s time was the Temperance Movement. Many of the materials included in Peck’s collection attempted to persuade readers that it was best to abstain from liquor entirely than take any risks, and were not afraid to resort to scare tactics to do so. Some information included in pamphlets like the one shown here discuss all sorts of unsavory additions to the average liquor bottle of the day – such as insects for flavor and dirt for coloration. If the reader chose to ignore these initial warnings, additional publications were widely available promising inevitable addiction, doom, and all sorts of unfortunate fates.

While we librarians might not be bold enough to claim the ability to predict the future the way some of these documents do, we do feel fairly confident that the Peck collection will make – and is already making - a useful addition to our digital collections for researchers from many different fields. Materials will be added on an on-going basis through the end of the summer, so check back regularly to see for yourself what will be added next… or, if you just can’t wait, you can always use our website and online finding aids to peek ahead at upcoming titles that might be added. Be forewarned: like me, you might find yourself falling down a deep (but fascinating!) rabbit hole of Peck-era research.*|END:IF|*

Porsche Schlapper, Curator of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library

Pott Library Notes

The Mercantile Library is pleased to welcome Porsche Schlapper as the new curator of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library.  Porsche was the top candidate from a national search that yielded many excellent applicants, and we are excited to have her move over from her previous temporary role as grant manager for the Peck Collection digitization grant to this permanent position. *|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*

Porsche earned an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a BS in History & Public Relations at University of Central Missouri, and has applied her academic training in digital project management positions at several institutions in St. Louis and Milwaukee.  In addition, Porsche grew up in a Missouri River town where her family took part in historic re-enactments of river history.  This personal connection with the history of American inland waterways complements her academic training and work experience to make her a great match for the Pott curator position, and we are delighted to have her on board.*|END:IF|*

Mercantile Board President Jane Gleason with honoree Daven Anderson at the
2017 Wright Award Luncheon. 

The Donald T. Wright Award and James V. Swift Medal

These prestigious awards are presented biennially in recognition of a published body of work that contributes significantly to a better understanding of the American inland waterways.  The Wright Award was first bestowed in 1975 and is named for Captain Donald T. Wright who served as editor and publisher of The Waterways Journal for 43 years. The Swift medal was established through a generous donation from the estate of James V. Swift and similarly recognizes excellence in contributions to maritime literature and history.  On March 24, 2017, the Library honored two St. Louisans with a history of strong connections to American rivers and river history.*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More *|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*
Daven Anderson received the Captain Donald T. Wright Award for his extensive body of paintings of American rivers currently on view at the Mercantile Library in the special exhibition The Rivers: A Celebration of Life and Work on America’s Waterways.  Daven draws on his history in the U.S. Naval Academy and his lifelong love of inland waters as inspiration for these works that capture the beauty, drama, and rigor of life on America’s rivers.


Mercantile Board President Jane Gleason presents the 2017 James V. Swift Prize to John Hoover at the 2017 Wright Award Luncheon. 
John N. Hoover received the James V. Swift Medal for his role in the establishment of the Pott Library and his early leadership as its first curator at that pivotal time.  Through his knowledge of rare books, maps, Americana and American history, John has enabled the Pott Library to grow into the national repository of river history that it is today. As director he continues to mentor new curators and guide the further growth of the collection, while his many books, exhibitions and articles have celebrated these bedrock holdings of transportation history. *|END:IF|*
Holograph letter written from London on August 29, 1872 from J. S. Morgan & Co. (J.S. is Junius S. Morgan, father of J. P. Morgan) to James B. Eads in St. Louis.

Barriger Library Notes

While processing the Bureau of Railway Economics Collection’s archival materials, Curator Nick Fry and Volunteer Ron Goldfeder came across a partially sorted box containing a very interesting holograph letter.  It was written from London on August 29, 1872 from J. S. Morgan & Co. (J.S. is Junius S. Morgan, father of J. P. Morgan) to James B. Eads in St. Louis.*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*

Eads had written Morgan & Co. for funding to complete the Eads Bridge and tunnel to the original St. Louis Union Station.  Apparently his proposal was not well received for the letter sent by the firm was one that turned down his idea of issuing script (basically money printed by the company) to pay for the completion of the tunnel.  Instead Morgan & Co. suggested the issuing of bonds backed by the railroads using the bridge and tunnel to raise funds at “less onerous terms.”  That didn’t mean that the House of Morgan was completely convinced this was the best solution.  The firm added that they would continue to think on the matter and examine the mortgage on the bridge and if that covers the approaches.

While not an outright denial of funds, this letter would not have been the news Eads was hoping for.   Despite this setback, funding was secured to complete the bridge and on July 4, 1874 William T. Sherman drove the Golden Spike completing the structure and President Grant officially dedicated it into service. In the long run, the financial health of the bridge company would fail.   The company was undercapitalized and therefore was betting heavily on immediate use by the railroads.  Unfortunately, they refused to pay to cross the river on the bridge and this led to the company’s failure and reorganization into the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. The Eads Bridge was traded to the city of St. Louis for the MacArthur Bridge (formerly the Municipal Bridge) and became the crossing for Metrolink over the Mississippi.  The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis owns the Merchant’s Bridge and the MacArthur Bridge and still transfers freight between Eastern trunk line carriers in Illinois and Western trunk line carriers in Missouri.​*|END:IF|*
“Sonnet to J.S. Bach’s Memory”. Ivor Gurney.  Twenty Poems of Music. Selected with an Introduction by R.K.R. Thornton. Illustrations by Nicholas Parry. Tern Press 2007.
Tern Press Exhibition
The Mercantile Library has collected the works of private presses for generations, and has built some extraordinary holdings in the book arts, fine bindings, and fine printing which can be used for study and projects in a number of research applications—from museum and design studies, to literary research.  The main interest at the Mercantile has been to collect a broad, exemplary collection of American presses and printers, such as Baskin and Janus Press, heirs to Rogers, Updike, John Henry Nash and the Grabhorn Press.  At the same time the Library never neglected the English presses and possesses a strong collection of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press as well as the work of Gill and others in the early 20th century and their “heirs” such as the Whittington, and Rampant Lions Presses. Some large archives of type manuals, printing ephemera, broadsides and prospectuses are also present. When a press demonstrates a particular adeptness in merging art and design with print and paper, the Library, with its additional mission of providing an unusual museum setting as well, is particularly interested, and no press here has been more admired or more fully collected  than Tern Press because of that artistic quality.*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*
Named for a little river that runs through the proprietors’ garden, the Tern Press was founded in the 1970’s by Nicholas and Mary Parry, who performed all the design, editing, typesetting, illustrating, binding, marbling and selling of the seemingly endless creations from their imagination.  The Parrys, who died shortly after one another in only the mid decade,  had essentially started printing and illustrating editions after art school in the 1950s. Winning prize money from a Welsh Arts Council painting competition allowed them to buy their first press from a local retiring job printer, which they subsequently wore out on editions of Beowulf and other classics. Parry has stated that “our initial aims were to relate each subject to a relative set of materials, to think of the book as an overall work of art , rather like an opera, with a body (stage-props-paper-binding), intellect (thoughts-words-libretto) and feelings (music-color-prints), to try, as in all art, to produce a form that lives and breathes.  Thus our books are not conceived, designed, produced through process, but are perceived, arranged and produced through craft.”  Something of this stage-setting is present  in all the great fine presses of the past and the present, but the Tern Press clearly had a very artistic and visionary stance at its core.

The press was energetic and very productive.  It used the greatest variety of typefaces, paper, bindings and illustration techniques to reflect an even broader range of subject matter, from the earliest  Old and Middle English poets, to modern poetry and natural history.  A press that can be identified through such variation successfully, is remarkable—one knows a Tern Press book, whether it is an edition of Jeffries, or Milton, Carroll, Blake, the Mabinogian, or Yeats or Gurney.  The Parrys’ taste was impeccable, flawless in selection, and they can even take credit in part for helping reshape an appreciation of somewhat forgotten poets like John Clare, the peasant Wordsworth. Quite often, so active were the Parry’s, that half of an entire press run would be composed of (1) a set of hand lettered copies with original watercolors, and (2) a set of lithographed and printed copies.  Press runs were necessarily very limited.  The Mercantile holds a number of unique proofs of books, as well as entire manuscript versions of subsequent printed editions. The delicate and subtle art by Nicholas Parry reveals a major talent and intellect.

The Parry’s created over 100 titles in a 35 year period, often several variant editions for each title, each a true work of art.  The Mercantile possesses nearly all of these, forming a strong archive of the Tern Press, a remarkable fine press, one of the major English presses of our time,  which used a vast array of formats, styles, subjects, illustration techniques, from watercolor, to lithography and etching to create, paradoxically,  a very consistent body of work—it is said the Nicholas Parry continued to draw and paint in bed to the day he died.   His and his wife, Mary’s, dedication and productivity, their commitment to “operatic” productions of fine printing, was a monumental achievement among the great presses.  Click here to view a complete list of items in the exhibition.*|END:IF|*
Two rare uncolored aquatint and engraved plates from John James Audubon’s Birds of America were recently acquired by the Library with support from the Bland Family Foundation.
Art Museum Notes
The Art Museum continues to build its collection of works by artists who lived and worked in Missouri, both well-known and recently re-discovered.  Among our major recent acquisitions are two extremely rare prints from John James Audubon’s seminal work The Birds of America, produced between 1827 and 1838, acquired at auction thanks to the generous support of the Bland Family Foundation.  *|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*

The Passenger Pigeon and the Three-Toed Woodpecker are uncolored aquatint and engraved plates with unusually wide margins and untrimmed deckle edges, indicating they may have been proof plates or plates that did not complete the full process from printing to hand-coloring and the final trim before being sent off to a subscriber.  These important works contribute to the Library’s growing Audubon collection that includes complete sets of both the Birds of America and the Viviparous Quadrupeds, Audubon’s later venture, completed with the help of his sons that was published between 1845 and 1854, as well as the Prospectus for the Birds of America, several pattern proofs and other rare examples of this American master’s work.  Many of these wonderful works are now on view in our special exhibition Audubon & Beyond: Collecting Five Centuries of Natural History at the St. Louis Mercantile Library through June, 2017. 

For a free guided tour of the exhibition, stop by the Library on Saturdays at 11 or Sundays at 2, or contact us for a convenient time to come by and learn more about the Library: MercantileLibrary@umsl.edu or 314-516-7281.*|END:IF|*
Student Assistants Samantha Johnson, Rebecca Rea, and Victor Allen provide invaluable support to the daily operations of the Mercantile Library.
Student Spotlight
The Mercantile Library has a long history of providing volunteer and paid positions for student workers at all levels to acquire valuable hands-on training that refines, and in some cases guides, their future career choices.  We are fortunate to have three very dedicated student workers with us now. *|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More ​*|END:IF|**|IF:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*
Victor Allen is a senior at UMSL majoring in English. His work for the Library includes scanning documents for the John Mason Peck project, which seeks to digitize a variety of pamphlets and books from the Peck collection. After completing his B.A. he hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science.  In his spare time Victor enjoys reading, writing and drawing. 
Rebecca Rea graduated from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale in 2013 with a B.A. in Art History and minors in Anthropology and Museum Studies. She is now in her last semester of coursework for a M.A. in History with a Museum Studies graduate certificate. During her two years in the program Rebecca has contributed to putting the James Godwin Scott watercolors on the UMSL Digital Library, has done scanning and research for the Shopmaker Collection, and is currently assisting with the Library’s social media calendar.  Rebecca’s interests are in Native American art, history, and culture. 
Samantha Johnson is in her first year of graduate work at UMSL for the MA in History with a concentration in Museum Studies.  She graduated from Lindenwood University with a B.A. in History and a B.A in Psychology.  During her first year as a graduate assistant, Samantha has been working with the Trojcak African Art Collection and learning about the exhibition process, including display techniques, conducting research, and writing object labels.  When she’s not working or in school, Samantha loves to go bowling, spend time outdoors, and read.*|END:IF|*
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