Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2005 Issue

Map Dealer Charged With Cutting Maps From Library Books

Smiley

The website of map seller E. Forbes Smiley


By Michael Stillman

A new and even more disturbing case than usual of slicing and dicing of volumes from library rare book rooms came to light recently with the arrest of E. Forbes Smiley, a longtime respected dealer in old and rare maps. The dealer was charged with slicing maps out of old books at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Smiley, who was released after posting bond of $175,000, pleaded not guilty in court in New Haven, Connecticut, on August 8. New Haven is the location of Yale University. Smiley is scheduled to appear in court again on October 3.

According to reports, suspicions were raised when an Exacto knife blade was found on the floor near Smiley. Apparently there had been some earlier suspicions about his behavior, but nothing proven. This time, Smiley was followed, and it is reported that when his belongings were searched, maps that had recently been part of books in the Yale collection were found in his possession.

It has also been reported that other libraries Smiley frequented have found maps missing from their books. The Boston Public Library and Newberry Library in Chicago, whom Smiley visited, have found maps missing from books he is believed to have used. The British and New York Public Libraries may also be missing maps. The New York library would be ironic as Smiley's website states that he has sold maps to that institution.

If the charges are proven, Smiley would hardly be the first to slice maps from the rare books of various libraries. See the following article from a recent issue of AE Monthly concerning British slicer Peter Bellwood: http://www.americanaexchange.com/NewAE/aemonthly/article_1.asp?id=223&page=1. However, Smiley's case appears to be larger in terms of value, the maps found in his possession being worth as much as $700,000. Additionally, Smiley had an excellent reputation, having sold maps from a New York office or his home on Martha's Vineyard for a couple of decades. He was no shadowy figure sneaking into libraries and disposing of his stolen merchandise in the night. Smiley was an apparently legitimate map dealer.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions