• <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Maria Louise Kirk, 4 pen, ink, watercolor & gouache illustrations for <i>Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,</i> 1904. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> H.A. Rey, <i>“Do You Want To Get Across?”</i> colored pencil, charcoal & watercolor, 1939. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Norman Rockwell, <i>The Pharmacist,</i> study for cover of <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1939. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, illustration for Homer’s <i>Odyssey,</i> gouache & watercolor, 1914. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>“And everyone was in his bed,"</i> gouache, watercolor & ink on board, 1961. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Charles M. Shulz, <i>Woodstock is Searching for His Identity,</i> original pen & ink 4-panel <i>Peanuts</i> comic strip, 1972. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> painted collage, 1990. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Jerry Pinkney, <i>The Lion & The Mouse,</i> watercolor & graphite, illustration for <i>School Library Journal,</i> 2009. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Maurice Sendak, watercolor & graphite illustration for <i>Little Bear's New Friend,</i> 2001. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Peter Arno, <i>Circus Tricks,</i> ink, wash & watercolor, cover illustration for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1964. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury: <i>“Is Rufus Ready for his Lesson?”,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, circa 1970s. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>H. Schedel, <i>Buch der Chroniken,</i> 1493. Est: € 120,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Latin and Book of Hours, around 1500. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Biblia latina, Koberger printing 1493. Est: € 4,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>P. de Medina, <i>Libro de grandezas,</i> 1549. Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>C. J. Trew, <i>Plantae selectae,</i> 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>A. de Laborde, <i>Voyage pittoresque,</i> 1806-20. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>G. Klimt, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> 1931.<br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>W. Kandinsky, <i>Klänge,</i> 1913.<br>Est: € 20,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>F. Léger, <i>Les illuminations,</i> 1949.<br>Est: € 2,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Master binding by E. Maylander, 1945. Est: € 1,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Master binding by G. Cretté, 1934. Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>S. Dalí, <i>Après 50 ans des surréalisme,</i> 1974. Est: € 8,000
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Buffon (G.L.M.L., Comte de). <i>Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux,</i> 10 vol., large paper copy, 973 hand-coloured engraved plates drawn and engraved by Franz Nicolaus Martinet, Paris, 1770-86. £70,000 to 90,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Bible (English). The Holy Bible, first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], 1611. £30,000 to 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Marlborough (John Churchill, 1st Duke of).- [Parker (Robert, army officer)] <i>[Memoirs of the remarkable military transactions from the year 1688 to 1718],</i> ?autograph manuscript, 300pp., [c. 1718]. £20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> France.- Paris.- Turgot (Michel Etienne). <i>Plan de Paris,</i> engraved maps, contemporary red morocco, gilt, Paris, 1739. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Mongolia.- Pallas (Peter Simon). <i>Sammlungen Historischer Nachrichten uber die Mongolischen Volkerschaften,</i> first edition, complete with 31 plates, St. Petersburg, 1776-1801. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Brant (Sebastian). <i>Stultifera Navis... The Ship of Fooles, wherein is shewed the folly of all States...,</i> large woodcut title and numerous woodcuts in the text, [London], [John Cawood], 1570. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Aldus.- Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Il Decamerone,</i> Venice, House of Aldus & Andrea Torresani, 1522. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Wallace (Alfred Russel). 77pp. of Autograph letters (and 1 postcard) to various people, 1894-1904, on various palaeontological, geological and natural history matters. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> DNA.- Watson (James D.) and Francis Crick, <i>Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,</i> 1953 [and others]. £5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Optics.- Molyneux (William). <i>Dioptrica nova. A Treatise of Dioptricks, in Two Parts,</i> first edition, for Benj. Tooke, 1692. £5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Economics.- Mississippi & South Sea Bubbles.- <i>Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid,</i> 74 engraved plates and 3 maps, Amsterdam, 1720. £4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Asia.- Clouet (Jean Baptiste Louis). <i>Carte D'Asie Divisée en ses Principaux Etats,</i> engraved map with hand-colouring, on wooden rollers, 1782. £3,000 to 5,000
  • <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> GAZA, Theodorus. <i>Introductivae grammatices libriquatuor.</i> Venice: Aldus Manutius, 25 December 1495. €40,000 to 50,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo. <i>Historie di Nicolo Machiavegli cittadino, et segretario fiorentino</i>... Rome: Antonio Blado, 25 March 1532. €15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> BELLMER, Hans -- ELUARD, Paul. <i>Les Jeux de la Poupée. Illustrés de textes par Paul Eluard.</i> Paris : les Editions Premieres, 1949. €30,000 to 40,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> [BONNARD, Pierre] - VERLAINE, Paul. <i>Parallèlement.</i> Paris : Imprimerie nationale & Ambroise Vollard, 1900. €30,000 to 40,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

The New York Public Library Wins Round One in Battle to Recover Stolen Books

F12fdf53-f3fb-4f20-af82-ce490eaaf2c4

The New York Public Library recently survived a round in its attempt to recover several books almost certainly stolen from it decades ago. The current possessor's attempt to have the library's claim for the books dismissed on statute of limitations grounds was denied by the New York State Supreme Court on January 8. The legal justification for the dismissal was bizarre, though it is hard to argue with the fairness of the result.

 

Last spring, Margaret Tanchuck approached Doyle New York, the auction house, with some impressive books. She was interested in an appraisal and possibly a sale. There were seven old bibles, but even more important was a manuscript workbook from Benjamin Franklin's printing house from 1759-1776. It could be worth seven figures. There were also some obvious problems with the books. They contained markings of the New York Public Library. One had an ownership stamp of the library inside, others the library's call numbers on the spine. Doyle quickly contacted the New York Public, Mrs. Tanchuck says with her permission, to inquire whether these items had indeed been sold or legally deaccessioned.

 

It didn't take long for the New York Public Library to say "no way." They had not been sold or otherwise intentionally released. However, the library was not aware that they were missing. In looking through their records, they concluded that the items departed the library sometime between 1988-1991, but no one there had ever noticed. Mrs. Tanchuck did not shed much light on how they exited the library either, only confirming the timing and describing how they came into her possession.

 

Mrs. Tanchuck inherited the books from her father, John Caggiano. Mr. Caggiano operated a jewelry store in Glen Head, New York, but also traded in other valuable items. According to Mrs. Tanchuck, sometime around 1990, her father told her he had some valuable books in his store, and mentioned them a few more times over the years, but never disclosed how he came to have them. Mr. Caggiano died in 2009.

 

One can only speculate how Mr. Caggiano came to possess these books. Obviously, he did not buy them from the library, and the odds that they were accidentally thrown away are less than slim-to-none. There is nothing in Mr. Caggiano's background that would suggest he was a thief, and the fact that he never attempted to remove the library markings or make any money from them indicates he was not in the business of stealing books. However, it does not appear unreasonable to think he was aware that not all was on the up and up based on his never attempting to sell the books, display them, or tell his family much about them. He appears to have treated the books as if they were "hot."

 

Based on his business, and the way he treated the books, we might guess that he purchased them for a ridiculously low price from someone else who knew they were stolen, either the thief or someone who obtained them from the thief. We have no evidence to support this guess, but it seems the most logical explanation to us. We might also note that Mrs. Tanchuck may have had serious doubts about the legitimacy of her father's possessions as she did not list them among the inventory of her father's estate presented to the Surrogate's Court in 2013.

 

The New York Public Library demanded Mrs. Tanchuck return the books. She declined. The library said she demanded a large sum of money to give them back. The library contacted the U. S. Attorney who seized the books. This lawsuit, in which the library prevailed, was an attempt by Mrs. Tanchuck to get a declaratory judgment that the library's claim was barred by the stature of limitations. That statute provides that an action to recover property must be commenced within three years of it being missing. Clearly, these books left the possession of the library way more than three years ago.

 

However, one exception established in the case law prevented the stature of limitations from running for many years, and herein lies what is truly bizarre about the law in this case. The case law provides that if stolen property is in the hands of a good faith purchaser, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the real owner demands the goods be returned, and the possessor refuses to return them. That did not happen until last year, and once the library realized the books were missing, they immediately made a demand for their return.

 

In other words, if Mr. Caggiano had stolen the books himself and kept his mouth shut, three years later they would have been his to keep. However, since he came upon them honestly (or, at least, there is no evidence that he did not), he does not get to keep them until three years after he has informed the owner he has them. The thief gets to keep the stolen merchandise, while the honest purchaser does not. The Supreme Court pointed out that "the Court of Appeals noted that it was 'seemingly anomalous,' for the cause of action to accrue earlier when the property was in possession of the thief, rather than a good faith purchaser for value. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals has not changed the rule which applies in those circumstances." Seemingly anomalous, indeed! It is ridiculous.

 

The court does go on to talk about "equitable principles" in their decision, and you get the feeling they might have found another way to come to the same result if Mrs. Tanchuck had claimed that her father said he stole the books himself. Any other result would be ridiculous, and courts usually don't like to reach stupid conclusions. The law may be an ass, but judges don't much like to look like ones themselves. So, this case will go on, and if I were a betting man, I would put my money on the New York Public Library to get those books back when all is said and done.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Livres et Manuscrits. November 21, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> ANDRÉ BRETON, <i>La Lampe dans l’horloge.</i> Paris, Robert Marin, 1948. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1959. €15,000 to €20,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> ARTHUR RIMBAUD, <i>Une Saison en enfer.</i> Bruxelles, Alliance typographique, 1873. Binding by Rose Adler. €25,000 to €35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> TRISTAN TZARA, <i>La Bonne heure.</i> Paris, Raymond Jacquet 1955. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1958. €8,000 to €12,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Livres et Manuscrits. November 21, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> PIERRE REVERDY, <i>La Lucarne ovale.</i> Paris, 1916. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1949. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> RENÉ CHAR, PABLO PICASSO, <i>Le Marteau sans maître and Moulin Premier.</i> 1927-1935. Paris, José Corti, 1945. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1947. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> MARCEL PROUST, Friendly correspondence to the count Louis Gautier-Vignal. 1914-1921. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Livres et Manuscrits. November 21, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> JEAN COCTEAU, Portrait of the Baron de Charlus, circa 1921-1923. Original drawing signed. €7,000 to €10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> PAUL ÉLUARD, JOAN MIRÓ, <i>À toute épreuve.</i> Genève, Gérald Cramer, 1958. First illustrated edition. €15,000 to €25,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> PAUL VERLAINE, PIERRE BONNARD, <i>Parallèlement.</i> Paris, Imprimerie nationale, Ambroise Vollard, 1900. €15,000 to €25,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE, ANDRÉ DERAIN, <i>L’Enchanteur pourrissant.</i> Paris, Henry Kahnweiler, 1909. €30,000 to €50,000
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Huttich (Johann) & Grynaeus (Simon). <i>Novus orbis regionum ac insularum veteribus …</i> FIRST EDITION, large woodcut folding map, text illustrations, folio, 1532. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Warhol (Andy) and Frankfurt (Suzie). <i>Wild Raspberries,</i> ONE OF FEWER THAN 100 COPIES, PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed by Warhol in pencil, 1959. £10,000 to 12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Meulen (Adam Frans, van der). Collection of Hunting, Genre and Battle Scenes, 27 copper-engraved views, folio, Paris [c. 1685]. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Tyndale's Bible.- Bible, English. <i> [The Newe Testament yet once agayne Corrected by Willyam Tindale],</i> many woodcut text illustrations and initials, 1536. £8,000 to 10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Jacobson (Ruth Taylor, artist). <i>Messiah's Feast,</i> original stained glass panel, image approx. 1020 x 615 mm., [c.1990]. £8,000 to 10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Wallerstein-Braun (Gitl, sculptor-photographer). 'Jeremiah', original bronze of the Jewish prophet, approx. 210 x 470 (at base) mm., [c. 2010]. £6,000 to 8,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Kadishman (Menashe, artist). <i>Goats Head,</i> original acrylic on canvas painting, [Israel], 2002. £2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Wyllie (W. L.) & Brewer (H. W.). <i>Bird's Eye View of London as seen from a balloon,</i> hand-coloured wood engraving, image 870 x 1100 mm., 1884. £1,800 to 2,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Stained glass window of Jewish interest.- Pilkington glass stained glass window from a demolished synagogue, approx. 580 x 1430 mm. [c.1950]. £1,500 to 2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Auerbach (Tauba, artist). <i>[2,3],</i> #129 of 1000 copies, with card numbered and signed by the artist/author, 6 vol., one cut-out pop-up figure in each volume, different coloured boards. £1,500 to 2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Costumes. <i>Costumi di Roma e dei Contorni,</i> engraved vignette title and 30 plates, Santarello, Rome, 1846; and 3 others (4). £1,000 to 1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Morris (William). <i>The Well at the World’s End,</i> one of 350 copies, The Kelmscott Press, 1896. £800 to 1,200
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000
  • <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition, in the original wrappers, of the first part of Pushkin’s masterpiece – ‘a bibliographical rarity of the highest order’ (Smirnov-Sokol’skii). £25,000 to £35,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The very rare first edition of Gogol’s first masterpiece and his first obtainable book. £50,000 to £70,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition of Dostoevsky's <i>Brat'ia Karamazovy</i> (1830) in a superb contemporary cloth presentation binding. £22,000 to £30,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition of the first version of the opening of <i>War and Peace,</i> with the original paper covers. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>An early corrected typescript of Akhmatova's <i>Poema bez geroia</i> (July 1946) £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>A presentation copy of the first edition of <i>Kamen</i> (1913) inscribed by Mandel'shtam to his early mentor the poet Viacheslav Ivanov. £60,000 to £90,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>Rare autograph correspondence from Vladislav Khodasevich, including a manuscript of his long poem 'Sorrento Photographs' (1921). £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>An important letter from Marina Tsvetaeva to the poet Nikolai Tikhonov (1935) in which she challenges Pasternak and his views on poetry. £12,000 to £18,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions