Beer stein artist favorite of collectors

Tuesday, December 4, 2001

PARK HILLS, Mo. -- People who collect beer steins tend to be serious about their hobby.

But Jim Wainwright, of the eastern Missouri town of Terre du Lac, was still surprised at his first collectors' show in Des Moines, Iowa. More than 2,000 people waited in line to get his autograph on their steins.

He decided that if people were willing to wait in line for two hours, he wasn't going to leave the table even to eat.

"I sat for eight and a half hours without moving from the table," Wainwright said. "Then we did the same thing in St. Charles."

Wainwright, 66, says post-retirement boredom drove him into going to work for St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, designing the artwork that adorns many of their collectible beer steins. He has become one of the company's most popular artists.

Each stein fetches $35 or more. Wainwright's most valuable contribution was the 2000 Millennium stein, which cost $800. Only 2,000 of those were made. The stein feature more than 350 illustrations from the past 2,000 years. His wife, Barbara Wainwright, helped with the research.

"It was a major project both of us worked up," he said.

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