Monday, March 23, 2009

Tabard Inn Library

The Tabard Inn Library was a for-profit membership library founded in 1902 by Seymour Eaton. It was administered by the Booklovers Library, another Eaton enterprise. Eaton was a remarkable entrepreneur and promoter who was also an author, journalist, and educator. I've been collecting a variety of artifacts related to both the Tabard Inn Library and the Booklovers Library for a number of years. Recently I acquired the book check which is shown to the left. The actual book check is much smaller than the image. After paying a life membership fee of $3.00, members could purchase the book checks or exchange tickets for 25 cents for six or one dollar for twenty-five. The member then dropped one of the book checks into a compartment on a special revolving bookcase at the Tabard Inn Library Station to exchange one book. The stations were located in drug stores and other commercial establishments throughout the United States. In an initial advertisement for the Tabard Inn Library, Eaton indicated that 10,000 of these bookcases would be manufactured at a rate of 25 and then 50 a day. To see images of the bookcases and other Tabard Inn Library artifacts click here.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Hi there! In one of your articles you mention that the Tabard Inn Library founder (Eaton?) declared bankruptcy in 1905. Did the Libraries then cease to exist? I have an old book of my grandmother's which is stamped "Pacific Coast Tabard Inn Library"* but the book was copyrighted in 1907.
*Located at 1215 Post St., San Francisco in 1911-1912. My grandmother lived in Spokane Washington. Hmmm....interesting.