• <b>19th Century Shop.</b> A patriot who fought with George Washington Superb Daguerreotype of Baltus<br>Stone at age 101 (1846).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Edward Curtis portrait of Honovi, Walpi Snake Priest "Honovi was one of the author's principal informants" (1910).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Execution of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators by Alexander Gardner (1865).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Beecher, Henry Ward Beecher, and the other siblings with their father Lyman Beecher. By Mathew Brady (1850s).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> From Slaves to World-Famous Entertainers Millie-Christine, "The Two-Headed Nightingale" (c. 1868-71)
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Goldfield, Nevada Photograph Collection Fabled Western Mining Boomtown (1905-1906)
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Tycoon-Collector Benjamin Richardson poses with his great-grandson as appeared in parade.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Alexander Gardner portrait of Lincoln the only known copy, ex-John Hay (1863).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Magnificent Niagara Falls album with a strong provenance (1867).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Spectacular American West Album From Yosemite to Salt Lake City to San Francisco.
  • <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 14. Darwin, Charles. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection... 1859.</i>. US$ 60,000-80,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 46. Smith, Adam. 1723-1790. <i>An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.</i> US$ 70,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 224. CIVIL WAR. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War [1865-1866]. US$ 120,000-180,000.
    255 — add to caption: First Edition, Subscriber’s Copy
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 270. Serra, Junipero. 1713-1774, ET AL. Pangua, Francisco. Letter in Spanish, 1775. US$ 60,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 77. Apple 1 Motherboard, with label "Apple Computer 1 / Palo Alto. Ca. Copyright 1976." US$ 300,000-500,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 46. The 1934 Nobel Prize Medal for Physiology or Medicine. Presented to George Minot. US$ 200,000-300,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 39. Darwin, Charles. 1809-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ch. Darwin"). US$ 70,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 4. Lubieniecki, Stanislaw. 1623-1675. <i>[Theatri Cometici pars posterior] Historia Cometarum...</i> US$ 25,000-35,000.
    <b>Bonhams September 21:</b> Lot 3. Vera rare George III mahogany and engraved brass orrery. US$ 200,000-250,000.
  • <b>Sotheby's Paris, De la bibliothèque Stéphane Mallarmé, 15 October.</b>
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 163. Stéphane Mallarmé. An autograph manuscript for <i>Un coup de Dés jamais n'abolira le Hasard</i>. [Avril Ou Début MAI 1897]. Est. 500,000-800,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 109. Manet, Edouard - Edgar Allan Poe - Stéphane Mallarmé. <i>Le Corbeau. The Raven. 1875</i>. Est 80,000-120,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 152. Edgar Degas. <i>Portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé and Auguste Renoir</i>, [16 Décembre 1895]. Est. 40,000-60,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 15. Baudelaire, Charles. <i>Les Fleurs du Mal. Paris, Poulet-Malassis et De Broise, 1861.</i> <br>Est. 80,000 - 120,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris, De la bibliothèque Stéphane Mallarmé, 15 October.</b>
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 137. Mallarmé, Stéphane. Vers Sur un Galet D'Honfleur. [Eté 1892 OU Été 1894.] Est. 5,000-8,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 48. Gide, André - Maurice Denis. <i>Le Voyage d'Urien. Paris, Librairie de L’Art indépendant, 1893.</i> Est. 20,000-30,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 103. Mallarmé, Stéphane - Edgar Allan Poe. Manuscripts Autographs. [1870-1875 ET 1869]. Est. 80,000-120,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 107. [Revue - Stéphane Mallarmé] La Derniere Mode. Gazette du monde et de la famille. Est. 40,000-60,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris, De la bibliothèque Stéphane Mallarmé, 15 October.</b>
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 110. Mallarmé, Stéphane - Edouard Manet. <i>L’après midi d'un Faune. Églogue. Paris, 1876.</i> Est. 30,000-50,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 160. Mallarmé, Stéphane. Premier état D'un Un Coup De Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard. Manuscrit Autographe. [1897].<br>Est. 60,000-80,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 164. Mallarmé, Stephane. 6 jeux d’épreuves Pour un Coup De Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard De l’édition définitive chez Vollard. Est. 100,000-150,000 EUR.
    <b>Sotheby's Paris</b>: Lot 198. [Méry Laurent] <i>Liber Amicorum De Méry Laurent</i>. 1875-Fin Des Années 1890]. Est. 50,000-80,000 EUR.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2013 Issue

Say it ain't so


An entertaining read - available from the author

Recently Mike Stillman wrote a story about a manuscript and book theft from the 1970’s that was solved with the admission of a person long associated with the Lambeth Palace Library that they had stolen from their archives.  Conscience ultimately won out and the library learned that perhaps as many as ten times as many books were taken as had previously been identified as missing – some 1,400 items altogether.  The material was recovered when the thief disclosed through his attorney after his death that Lambeth material was hidden in his attic.  It’s a happy if unsettling ending and an easily ignored indication of an immense problem, the theft of books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera that is overwhelmingly an un and under-reported crime.

A year ago he wrote about the Girolamini thefts, books found to have been taken by Massimo de Caro, director of the Girolamini Library in Naples.  Fifteen hundred books were initially reported missing and recently that number increased to 4,000.  For Mr. De Caro the important number is now 7 as in 7 years.  That is 2,556 days in jail books.

Theft is the often third step in a book’s history.  The first I’ll buy it and the second “it’s around here somewhere.”  But of course it's not.  It’s on to its next life a la The Bookman’s Tale [see the May issue of AE Monthly for a review].

The problem is that unusual examples are often difficult to understand and tend to share shelves with nice but less important material that in time mutes their significance and obscures their value.  In some institutions such materials are well identified and separated by value, the most important materials behind screens and locked doors.  But not all and it's at the margins that important material tends to be vulnerable, particularly if those stealing are themselves the trusted insiders.

The Lambert Palace experience illustrates that important books can slip through the cracks, particularly when the thief is someone working in the building with access through security, to the material and the cataloguing.  In such circumstances things can disappear; from the shelves and from the catalogue.  Two things saved the Lambeth from extraordinary losses, the library’s bookmarks that kept a presumed large portion of the stolen material from being disposed and in death, the thief’s decision to return what he could not cash.  In this case the story has a happy ending more or less.

But such thefts are common and most stories do not have happy endings.  For collectors  - age, declining eyesight and mental acuity may encourage “borrowing” as was the case with material in Frank Siebert’s collection in the late 1990s.  Some material is still on loan.

But surely such thefts are uncommon if not absolutely rare.  Yes?  No.  For the intrepid, the ones willing to be informed, one can always run a search for ‘book theft.’ On Google the 43,500 results will keep you up at night for months if not years.  Wikipedia chimes in with a page on library theft, reporting some of the recent major cases and the fact that English libraries experience theft at the rate of 5.3% whatever that means.

And in Oklahoma a textbook salesman is currently accused of diverting $2.8 million of text material from the John Wiley Company and reselling in on the Internet.  The material apparently is not old but the crime is.  When the first collector saw a copy of the Gutenberg and said “I’ll take it” we can’t be sure what he meant.

The number of reported crimes in recent years has been rising.  David Slade, past president of the ABA in the United Kingdom, was caught lifting material from the Rothschild collection, confessed and was sentenced to prison.

E. Forbes Smiley, a established dealer, resolved the issue of missing volumes by simply excising maps.  He too was sent to prison, as was Denning McTague who while interning at the NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, was arrested for theft and subsequently sentenced to 15 months.

Theft is apparently common and of course has a history.

In an interesting well-researched book by Jeremy M. Norman I recently read I can see that it’s not a new problem.  His book, Scientist, Scholar & Scoundrel, is a bibliographical investigation of the “Life and Exploits of Count Gugliemo Libri,” an Italian polymath who in the 19th century played chess when his opponents, the stock and gate keepers of many of the great libraries, played checkers and he picked their pockets clean; he the brilliant, well-placed and influential expert on rare and important manuscripts and they, the frequently ignorant and unaware.  He had quite a life, in his most active years living in France moving from Paris to London in 1848 into the warm embrace of they who did not care for the French and therefore refused to believe the charges of document theft stacked up in the Parisian courts like garbage on New York City’s sometimes strikebound streets.  The French, who would come to hate him, ensured that the English, who in that era held the French in contempt, would embrace the hated as, if not a hero, a wronged party.

In the 1840’s and for two decades to follow, the principal acquirer of Mr. Libri’s fenced properties was English Lord Ashburnham whose purchases in many cases would later find their way back to France and Italy, acquired by and on behalf of the robbed, to reunite the dispersed parts with the collections once looted.

How Mr. Libri could succeed in his life of crime arises from his unique capabilities and the era in which he lived, the final four decades before library records and official documentation would begin to become the science it is today.  In his era only a small group of scholars could read the ancient texts and few consistent records were kept.  It was in fact, to read Mr. Norman’s account, easy to steal.

That such criminality continues today is established, thus suggesting that more remains to be done.  We can not or should not trust, this the now pungent lingering odor that will hover over visitors and researchers for years to come because a few could not be trusted and it’s a shame.  The world of rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera thrives in the atmosphere of trust and is limited and damaged by distrust.  So it turns out what Libri and his many later imitators have taken was more valuable than documents and books, it was our trust.   “I had no idea” is not a defense and neither is it an excuse.  Those who control must be vigilant and those trusted to see, touch and turn must be worthy of the privilege.

In hell there should be a place from which to hang those that steal our confidence and trust.  Such people exist in every generation.  They who steal the printed word should have their own gallery.  And now, if someone will lend me their cigarette lighter …

Scientist, Scholar & Scoundrel by Jeremy M. Norman.  Available on his website – www.historyofscience.com and on Amazon.  It’s an interesting story and very well organized.

Jeremy Norman
Novato, California

Writer's Note:  Correction:  An earlier version of this article said that E. Forbes Smiley had been a member of the ABAA.  That is incorrect.  He has never been a member.

Posted On: 2013-07-22 00:00
User Name: wallyj

I believe that special place in hell for thieves is Circle 8, Bolgia 7. That is a ditch of evil within the circle where they are in in an endless cyc

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 52. Charles Schulz, Original Peanuts Snoopy Baseball Strip, U.S.A, 1964. Starting price $16,000.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 6.<br>Maurice Sendak (1928-2012), 'Max, Where the Wild Things Are', Pen & Ink, 2012. Starting price $1,500.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 13.<br>Leo Rijn after Dr. Seuss, Cowfish Maquette, U.S.A, 1998. Signed on stand. Starting price $1,000.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 17.<br>Dr. Seuss, Untitled, Color Pen & Ink, C. 1940. Signed ‘Dr Seuss’ lower left. Starting price $4,000.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 19.<br>Dr. Seuss, ‘I wonder how I offended George…’ Pen & Ink, C. 1930. Starting price $7,500.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 29.<br>Disney Studios, 'Queen, Snow White', Concept Sketch, U.S.A., C. 1937. Starting price $3,000.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 30.<br>Marc Davis, 'Sleeping Beauty in a Meadow', Production Cel, 1959. Signed. Starting price $1,200.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 50.<br>Charles Schulz, Original Peanuts Daily Strip, USA, 1966. Signed 'Schulz'. Starting price $10,000.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 58.<br>Chuck Jones, Signed, hand-painted Production Cels from Duck Dodgers, 1952. Starting price $4,500.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 77.<br>Stan Lee, Marvel Studios, Bishop,<br>X-Men, Production Cel, C.1995. <br>Starting price $240.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 79.<br>Warner Bros, 'New Adventures of Superman', C. 2000. Production Cel. Starting price $300.00.
    <b>AUCTIONATA Oct 14th:</b> Lot 84.<br>Tim Burton, Mayor from Nightmare Before Christmas, C. 1993. Starting price $1,500.00.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Autographs
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Autograph letter signed by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to Senator John William Clark Watson, Richmond, 1865. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Autograph poem by John Quincy Adams from an album kept by Abby Smith, w. inscription signed by her grandfather, John Adams, 1820s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Typed letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt to assemblyman Michael A. Schapp, New York, 1913. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Autographs
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Autograph letter signed by Richard Wagner to Hofkapellmeister Max Seifriz, Zürich, 1853. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Photograph signed and inscribed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to librettist Paul Collin, 1888. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> <i>Katalog der Wiener Kunstschau</i> signed and inscribed by Egon Schiele, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Autographs
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Letter signed by Mohandas K. Gandhi to Dr. John Haynes Holmes, Sevagram, 1940. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Photograph signed and inscribed by Marilyn Monroe to Dulce Brito, circa 1957. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 22:</b> Two typed letters signed by William Faulkner, Los Angeles, 1943. $4,000 to $6,000.

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