Charles Spink was a St. Louis institution. He was publisher of the locally based Sporting News, a national weekly considered the “bible” of baseball reporting, and his wife Edie was mayor for 20 years of the inner suburb of Ladue where they lived. The couple had a passion for collecting Asian art, which they focused on in considerable measure because it was an area where their city’s art museum was weak. Charles and Edie consulted with the St. Louis Art Museum throughout the time they collected, and loaned many pieces to the gallery as they purchased them. When Edie died, the 215 pieces she and her husband had accumulated—ceramics, jade, metalwork, works in lacquer, wood, and glass, with one jade piece being 5,000 years old—were bequeathed by the couple to their local museum.
In addition, the Spinks gave their hometown 10 paintings by American artists. These include a Rembrandt Peale portrait of George Washington, four Wyeth watercolors, and two works by Norman Rockwell: “Thanksgiving” and “Hot Stove League.” The cumulative value of the Spink donation to their community was conservatively estimated at $50 million.