Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2020 Issue

Long Lost Books Discovered in a Library's Walls

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Jack Tripp's library card and the missing old books (SLC Library photos).

There's always a certain amount of anticipation when you tear out the walls of an old building. Might there be something, perhaps trivial in its day, of substantial value now to be found within? For book collectors and readers, the excitement would be particularly strong if that building is a library. That happened recently in Salt lake City, and what was discovered was some old, long lost books, some missing almost a century.

 

The story begins in 1928. That is when the Sprague Branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library moved to a new location. It was a fine-looking structure, winning an award from the American Library Association in 1935 as The Most Beautiful Branch. It still is a beautiful building. Unfortunately, a surprise rainstorm on July 26, 2017, hit Salt Lake City and the Sprague Library was a primary victim. Over five feet of water covered the bottom floor. Many of the books were destroyed, while water seeped into the walls. There is not much you can do when the interior is that extensively damaged. The decision was to gut the interior, while preserving the award-winning exterior of the classic old building.

 

Renovation is now underway, with an expected completion date late this year. Recently, during part of the renovation that involved tearing out the walls, some old books were discovered. There was some built-in shelving and apparently a few books slid behind those shelves, never to be seen again until now. Also discovered was an old library card, one that entitled Jack Tripp of 603 Ramona Avenue to borrow books. He took out several books in 1930, but he would not be able to use it today. The library card expired in March 1935.

 

So, what were the books that the librarians found? Sadly, there were no Shakespeare First Folios, no first edition Birds of America. However, they did find The Birds' Christmas Carol. None of these books are particularly rare or collectible. A couple of them may have some modest value, but with the emphasis on “modest.” Here are some titles other than The Birds' Christmas Carol they found: Lady of Lyons or Love and Pride, Building with Logs, Making and Showing Your Own Films, and General History of Architecture. The Birds and the Lady are 19th century books and may have a limited amount of value.

 

The Lady of Lyons looks to be the most valuable book. This is a play and evidently it was once quite popular. It also appears to be one of those books that has since gone out of favor. We were able to locate 13 times when it came up for sale at auction between 1888-1923. Since then, it has only appeared once, in 1962, when Sotheby's sold a copy for $98. That one came with stage directions so was likely more valuable. Bookseller George MacManus offered a copy in 1982 for $35. I think we can estimate this book in the low hundreds.

 

Kate Douglas Wiggin, better known for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, was the author of the Birds' Christmas Carol. It was her second book. The Birds here are not what Audubon drew, but a human family named Bird. It is something of a tear jerker. This book has come up for auction five times since 2010 with triple digit estimates but did not sell even one time. I'm not sure what that means, other than maybe it is being estimated too high. Unfortunately, those estimates were for the 1887 first edition. The Sprague Library has the 1888 edition, a copy of which sold last year at Heritage for $52. Peg this one at low to mid-double digits.

 

The other three are 1930s-1950s books and don't show up in the auction records. That does not reflect rarity. It reflects insufficient value. If you can sell one of these for more than single digits, you are doing well. Nonetheless, the find is interesting to the curious, and the library has put the books on display, not at the library, since it is closed, but at a local firehouse.

 

That leads us to a final question, who was Jack Tripp? It turns out that is more difficult to answer than you might imagine. This is not because you cannot find a Jack Tripp in Salt Lake City doing a Google search. To the contrary, the problem is you will find too many. That is because of a remarkable oddity in what otherwise appears to be a fairly ordinary family. The Tripps named all of their sons “Jack.” For this we are indebted to Salt Lake City's Deseret News which did some outstanding sleuthing to answer this question. Jack Tripp had two sons from different marriages. Both were named Jack. One of those sons, who died in 2012, had five sons and he named all of them “Jack.” That must have been confusing. He did give them different middle names to distinguish one from another. The Deseret News did locate library-card Jack Tripp's daughter, who is 82 years old. She remembers her father as a hard working man. She figured he must have taken the books from the library for school assignments since he was not much of a reader. He worked as mechanic at a smelter during the war, then for Greyhound, and finally for a machinery company. He played ball with his children, took them for ice cream, but they did not have the money for vacations. He worked hard to support the family and it took its toll. Pictures show he aged quickly and died in 1962 at the age of 51. He probably would have remained forgotten to all but a few aging people, and his name and picture would never again have appeared in a newspaper, were it not for the accident of his library card slipping behind a bookcase during the 1930s. It came late, but Jack Tripp finally achieved his 15 minutes of fame. That's more than most people will ever get.

 

You can find Jack Tripp's story by clicking this link to the Deseret News.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.
  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020

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