Jack Hanrahan died last week. With his passing the trade has lost one of its finest. Jack was an excellent bookman, a mentor to many in the trade (myself included), and an inimitable character. His ABAA interview can be found here
Jack and Joyce resided in Portsmouth, NH, Belgium, Pittsburgh, Short Hills, NJ, and Wells, Maine. Back in the 1970s or early 80s, when he was still in Portsmouth, he taught me a valuable lesson about book scouting. I wrote about that moment in my bookselling memoir “Don’t Do It!” and I reproduce it here.
… About this time I took my first road trip. Things were really opening up for me now.
I remember patiently working all the junky antique shops along Route 1, where Scott Nason would later find that rare first edition of Tamerlane—I wouldn’t have recognized it if they’d put it in my hands—and as far into the wilds of New Hampshire as the White Mountains. I forget where I slept that first night, but it was all terribly exciting. Here I was, out on the road!
A couple of days later I was exhausted, beaten down and nearly broke, having spent my pathetic allotment on I knew not what, when I stumbled into Jack Hanrahan’s place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and introduced myself as a fledgling book dealer. He directed me to a huge pile of books that had somehow landed in the middle of the floor of his front room, seemingly having been deposited there by a dump truck. I poked disconsolately around the fringes of the pile and announced that I was sorry I could not find a single thing to buy from him. To my considerable surprise he upbraided me. He told me it was nonsense to say I couldn’t find any books to buy, and more or less intimated that I was a namby-pamby quitter.
“You can find books anywhere,” he said. “And I know you haven’t been through that whole pile. Now get back to work! This is a business, not a hobby.”
Sure enough, I went back and found two books on local history that were quite desirable at the time. Jack probably knew they were there all along, but just to reinforce his lecture he practically gave them to me.
Jack’s place became a regular stop after that. His depredations of a local shop in New Jersey are legendary, and he was happy to share his bounty with the trade. His stock was always visually appealing and in excellent repair.
Jack is survived by his lovely wife Joyce, an estimable bookseller and scholar in her own right. I’m so sorry for your loss, Joyce…