Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2009 Issue

Are You Missing These Books?

Marykolompar

Mary Kolompar is suspected of stealing the Civil War books found in her possession.


By Michael Stillman

Are you missing some valuable Civil War books? If so, New York City police would like to speak to you. In a twist on the normal book theft case, this is the story of some found books, rather than missing ones. The problem is, police do not know from whom they were stolen. They do not show up in the ABAA or other registries of missing books.

On November 14, officers from New York's Document Fraud Squad conducted a search of the Brooklyn home of Mary Kolompar. The 64-year-old Mrs. Kolompar was suspected of welfare fraud and document counterfeiting. However, in their search, police came across eleven Civil War books in excellent condition. Perhaps you or I would have assumed Ms. Kolompar was a Civil War book collector, but police are a suspicious lot. They assumed the heavily accented Romanian immigrant was a thief.

It was not so much her ethnic background as a her rap sheet that made police suspicious that Ms. Kolompar was not really an American Civil War book collector. Mary Kolompar has a rap sheet longer than War and Peace, dating back to 1978. She has been arrested in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Florida... at least. It's hard to be sure as she has used various aliases, including Mary Shero, Maria Kolompar, Mary Kolomar, Zofia Wloch and Susan Brown. That's only the start, as she has used at least 25 aliases at various times. Her birth date has also been unclear, her having used at least 10 of these. She has generally worked small-time crimes with a group of associates, including her son. Fraudulently gaining entry into the homes of elderly people to rob them is typical of the types of offenses for which she has been arrested. At the time of this search, she and two of her associates were already out on bond from Pennsylvania for possession of instruments of crime with the intention to use them. Obviously Ms. Kolompar not only knows how to steal, but equally well how to work the U.S. justice system. One can only wonder how and why someone with her record is out on the street.

Now, here is the list of books New York City police found:

South-Side View of Slavery by Nehemiah Adams. 1855.
The Church and Slavery by Albert Barnes. 1857.
The Public Life of Captain John Brown by James Redpath. 1860.
The Impending Crisis of the South by Hinton Rowan Helper. 1860.
The Cotton Kingdom by Frederick Law Olmstead (two volumes). 1861.
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (two volumes). 1862.
Infantry Tactics by Silas Casey. 1862.
Officers of our Union Army and Navy by Dean Dudley. 1862.
Rifle and Infantry Tactics by William J. Hardee. 1863.

Police have valued the collection at around $20,000. If you are missing these books, or know someone who is, you should contact Detective Michael McFadden of the New York Police Department at 212-923-1188 or michael.mcfadden@nypd.org. If you own these books, live somewhere between Florida and New England, and haven't checked on them lately, we suggest you look now. Police have no idea where or when Ms. Kolompar came into possession of them. She isn't talking.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
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  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
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