Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2014 Issue

Sharp Eyes Discover Hidden Library Theft

3adb66e1-8d86-4434-adc3-982c900a7571

Document stolen from Vermont library.

A Colchester, Vermont, man has been charged in a case of library theft, and it is an example of just how difficult this crime can be to detect if patrons aren't being watched all of the time. Patrick Rooney, age 55, was charged with taking a document from the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, and later attempting to sell it to the Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont.

 

The item allegedly stolen wasn't a whole book. It was a single page. It came from the Burlington Proprietors Volume 1. This is a book containing documentation of various land transactions. It is dated 1791. Rooney reportedly claimed the page had been bound out of place at the back of the book, but whether this is true is unclear. A couple of things were unusual about this particular page. One is that it contained the name of General Ira Allen. Allen is not well known outside of his native Vermont, but his brother is. That would be Ethan Allen, the Vermonter who led his “Green Mountain Boys” in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga early in the American Revolution. Most of the Allens' careers were otherwise spent in the development of Vermont, as it carved out its own independence and then statehood.

 

The other unusual thing about this document is it relates to a transaction in the town of Sterling. That one may puzzle even native Vermonters. There is no town of Sterling in Vermont. There hasn't been one in over a century and a half. Once upon a time there was, but few would remember it now. Perhaps this emboldened the thief to believe the document would never be missed. Sterling was created in 1782, a virtually uninhabited area in northern Vermont, surrounded by Allen's Green Mountains. It never did gain many inhabitants. The town reached 193 residents in 1840, but administering it for such a limited number of people was burdensome. In 1856, the residents voted to dissolve the town, its land being incorporated into its neighbors. If no one missed a document relating to Sterling, it would not be all that surprising. Few are aware of it.

 

Unfortunately for the thief, at least one person remembered Sterling. It is not known when the document was stolen. However, it was still present in the Fletcher Library collection in 2010. At that time, the document was one that was scanned by the Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont as part of a preservation initiative. More recently, according to the police report, Rooney offered it for sale to the Bailey-Howe Library. One of the curators at that library thought it looked familiar. He checked the digital copy and discovered it had the same markings and stains as the one that had been offered for sale by Rooney. The police were contacted, and Rooney was charged with petit larceny and selling stolen property.

 

This is not the first time Rooney has been so charged. At least three times between 1991 and 2001 he was charged in connection with artifacts stolen from libraries and museums and offered for sale. However, this was unknown to librarians at the University of Vermont Library as they had purchased items from Rooney before. Obviously, they will need to conduct some more investigations. The police report noted that the document has been described as “priceless.” Nonetheless, a valuation must be made to establish the level of the charge, and it has been estimated to be worth from $175 (allegedly Rooney's asking price) to $500. As such, if guilty, Rooney could be assessed a fine $1,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

 

Editor's note:  The Burlington Free Press has reported that after Rooney failed to appear for his arraignment, he was discovered dead in his home, the apparent victim of a suicide.

 


Posted On: 2014-03-01 20:30
User Name: mikefromco

Good article, but... what would be most useful would be a picture (perhaps the arrest mug shot)---so that his future presence will not pass unnoticed by curators, librarians and dealers. As this was not his first arrest, it is unlikely to be his last crime.


Posted On: 2014-03-01 20:50
User Name: mikefromco

It appears Rooney's picture is N/A, but pictures would be useful in future theft articles.


Posted On: 2014-03-01 23:27
User Name: AE244155

There was a mug shot available with the police report but we didn't want to use it with a fairly small crime and a belief this would be a deterrence for quite awhile. As the Editor's Note added, unfortunately, Mr. Rooney apparently took his own life.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini. June 27</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> KENNEDY ONASSIS, JACQUELINE Typed letter signed to Oleg Cassini. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> [CASSINI-KENNEDY FASHIONS] Important archives related to the development of fashions for Mrs. Kennedy… $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> [CASSINI-KENNEDY FASHIONS] Detailed ledger of the Kennedy White House years… $500 to $800
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> KELLY, GRACE. Four autograph letters to Oleg Cassini. $5,000 to $8,000
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini. June 27</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> CASSINI, OLEG. Group of Kennedy-era original fashion sketches. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> KENNEDY ONASSIS, JACQUELINE. Autograph letter signed to Oleg Cassini. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> CASSINI, OLEG. Fashion sketch titled “Mrs. Kennedy-Palais de Versailles-State Dinner.” $800 to $1,200
    Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini: [CASSINI, OLEG - KENNEDY, JACQUELINE.] Group of approximately 130 original fashion designs… $800 to $1,200.
  • <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger, <i>La Fin du monde filmée par l’ange N.-D.,</i> Paris, Editions de la Sirène, 1919
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> André Breton, <i>Second manifeste du Surréalisme,</i> Paris, Editions Kra, 1930
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Paul Eluard and Pablo Picasso, <i>La Barre d’appui,</i> Paris, Editions « Cahiers d’Art », 1936
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger, <i>La Fin du monde filmée par l’ange N.-D.,</i> Paris, Editions de la Sirène, 1919
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Hans Bellmer, <i>Die Puppe,</i> Paris, G.L.M., 1936
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Salvador Dali, <i>La femme visible,</i> Paris, Editions Surréalistes, 1930
  • <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin. A novel in verse.</i> A first edition of the most important work in Russian literature in its original parts, 1825–32. £120,000 to £160,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Gogol, Nikolai. <i>Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka.</i> A rare first edition of Gogol's first masterpiece, 1831–32. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles Robert. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.</i> First edition, owned and read by two contemporaries of Darwin. London: John Murray, 1859. £140,000 to £200,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Galilei, Galileo. <i>Sidereus Nuncius.</i> First edition, announcing the first astronomical discoveries made with the telescope. Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, [March] 1610. £300,000 to £500,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> The seal of Wulfric. England, first half 11th century. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Bible, <i>Ezechiel</i> in Latin. [Northern Italy, 5th century]. £120,000 to £180,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Blaeu, Jan and Willem Blaeu. <i>Grooten Atlas [Atlas Major]</i>. Amsterdam: Johannes Blaeu, 1664. £450,000 to £650,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Petites Heures of Charles VIII use of Paris, in Latin. An exquisite Hours illuminated by the Master of the Chronique Scandaleuse. [Paris, 1490s]. £300,000 to £500,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions