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HISTORY: In the early 1990s, as a result of producing a series of book arts programs and exhibitions, the Mercantile Library created a reference collection of rare and historic marbled papers, one of the very few such collections in American libraries. The collection was developed by partial donation and subsequent study of bound volumes in the stacks of the Mercantile Library by noted paper marbler, Curtis Finley, a St. Louis book arts historian. In 2018 this collection received an addendum of materials from Clark-Graves Antiques, many of which were handmade and pressed in Italy.
SCOPE: The collection covers all historic styles of paper marbling, particularly those most often associated with binding history. Modern papers and historic marbled sheets and boards are included as examples.
HOLDINGS: The total collection now contains approximately 36 boxes. The original collection comprised approximately 100 sheets, 200 slides, with numerous documentary annotations; some cross-references to bound volumes with exemplary marbled sheets. The collection continues to be developed, and documentary slides of papers in bound volumes are added periodically.
ACCESS: Special Collection M-127 is supported by an exhibition catalogue produced by the Mercantile Library, A Snail, A Peacock, and a Tiger's Eye: Historic Marbled Papers in the Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association (1991). Portions of the collection may be photocopied, digitally scanned, or photographed, depending on condition.