The Tabard Inn Library was founded in 1902 in the US by Seymour Eaton, an entrepreneur, journalist, author and educator. The concept was for a membership lending library housed in revolving bookcases, such as the present lot, and located in drugs stores and other commercial establishments across the United States. The membership list generated from the enterprise was used by Eaton to promote other ventures, such as the Tabard Inn Food Company. The name of the library was taken from the Tabard Inn, Southwark, London, an ancient hostelry made famous by Geoffrey Chaucer who described it in the first few lines of his Canterbury Tales as the location where the pilgrims met prior to their long journey. However, the library scheme was short-lived, ending when Eaton was declared bankrupt in March 1905.
John Andrews, 'The Revolving Bookcase Mystery, Part 2: 26 Years On - An American Dimension', Antique Collecting, May 2006, pp. 48-49.