One never knows what you are going to find at a car boot sale, as was the case with one particular sale in Reno, Nevada late September, when a collector came across a scrapbook of pictures and letters commemorating the life of IRA soldier Frank Ryan.
Ryan was born in County Limerick, Ireland in 1902. He fought for the Irish Republican Army as well as being a founding member of the Republican Congress. A Communist supporter, Ryan was an avid left-wing publisher and established two presses, the Cooperative Press and Liberty Press. He volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Seriously wounded at the battle of Jarama in February 1937, he returned to Ireland to recover only to go back to Spain as adjutant under General Jose Miaja. During the offensive of Aragon, Ryan was captured and given over to the Italians, who sentenced him to death. His sentence was changed to 30 years but he escaped and was abducted into Germany in 1940. In 1944 Ryan died of a stroke in Dresden.
The scrapbook was bought at the car boot sale for less than 20 dollars and was re-auctioned on E-Bay for 1,100 dollars. Thomas DuChamp, a coin collector and owner of the book said that his son first found it at the Reno auction. “He’d never heard of Frank Ryan and he just bought it because it was old and there were a lot of pictures and letters in it.” Thomas was especially excited to find a photo of Frank Ryan and Ernest Hemingway together in Spain (pictured above, left), only to discover later that it wasn’t worth much monetarily. DuChamp contacted a few Irish historical societies, but he says that there was little interest in the book. ♦