• <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Renaissance Manuscript featuring two Dialogues by Plato, with translation from the Greek and learned discourse by Leonardo Bruni, called Aretino. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Isaac Newton on the plague. Autograph Manuscript, being Newton's notes on reading Van Helmont's "De Peste." $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("A. Einstein"), to "Die 'A.E. Group' in New York" humorously accepting his role as patron saint, and offering a motto for their members. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> LOBACHEVSKY, NIKOLAI. Document Signed ("Lobachevsky"), and accomplished in Manuscript, a letter of designation in his role as Curator of Regional Education in Kazan. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WITTGENSTEIN, LUDWIG. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ludwig Wittgenstein") to Moritz Schlick discussing Gödel's incompleteness theorems. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ch Darwin") to Alexander Agassiz regarding gradation of structure in pediculariæ. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> PAULI, WOLFGANG; BOHM, DAVID. Typed Letter Signed ("W. Pauli") to physicist David Bohm offering his second and final critique of Bohm's hugely influential 1952 paper. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Walt Whitman"), a draft of the final lines to his final poem "A Thought of Columbus." $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> KANT, IMMANUEL. Autograph Quotation Signed ("Immanuel Kant"), from an album amicorum. <i>"Quod petis in te est, ne te quaesiveris extra."</i> $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE. Photograph Signed ("Mark Twain") and Inscribed, with the witty aphorism, "Admonitions—harvested from the wisdom of the ages: Physician, heal thyself. Patient, heel thyself." $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

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

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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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Newton (Sir Isaac). <i>Opticks…,</i> first edition, presentation copy to Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and with his ink and pencil annotations. £300,000 to £400,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Aliotti (Girolamo). <i>Gratulatio ad Pium II pro foelici, ac secundo ex Mantuana peregrinatione reditu…,</i> illuminated manuscript on fine vellum, in Latin, Florence, 1460. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Sangorski (Alberto).- Keats (John). <i>La Belle Dame sans Merci...,</i> illuminated manuscript on vellum, magnificently bound in morocco elaborately tooled in gilt & inlaid with 137 jewels, 1928. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Miniature Book.- Taylor (John). <i>Verbum sempiternum [&] Salvator mundi,</i> 2 parts in 1, contemporary embroidered dos a dos binding, 1614. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Bodoni.- Rossi (Giovanni Gherado de). <i>Scherzi Poetici e Pittorici,</i> with original gouache drawings bound in, Neoclassical red straight-grain morocco, gilt, Parma, Bodoni, 1795. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Palladio (Andrea). <i>I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura,</i> first edition, Venice, Domenico de' Franceschi, 1570. £14,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Voyages.- Lowther (Rear Admiral Marcus, 1820-1908). An album of 166 original watercolours and drawings made on voyages between 1842 and 1853. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection,</i> third edition (seventh thousand), presentation copy to Robert Colgate, John Murray, 1861. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Jane Austen's Family - ?C[ooper] (E[dward], married Jane Leigh (1736-83), sister of Cassandra Leigh (1739-1827), married George Austen (1731-1805), parents of Jane Austen. Miscellanies, poems dated btwn. 1750-88.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Americas.- Herrera y Tordesillas (Antonio). <i>Novus orbis, sive descriptio Indiae occidentalis,</i> 4 parts in 1 vol., Amsterdam, Colijn, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Canada.- Baker (Lt. Col. Sir Edward). An Eye Sketch of the Fall of Niagara, [c. 1795.] £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Dance.- Caroso (Fabrizio). <i>Il Ballarino,</i> first edition, Venice, Francesco Ziletti, 1581. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 3. Ritter's fascinating sundial world map (1610). $11500 to $13000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 590. Ruscelli's complete, third edition atlas (1574). $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 184. Superb pictorial map of Manhattan (1953). $700 to $850
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 5. Visscher's superb world map in contemporary color (1658). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 48. Sanson's highly desirable atlas of the Americas with 15 maps (1699). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 292. Very rare zoomorphic map of Europe during WWII (1939). $1800 to $2100
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 89. Rare map of the new United States prior to signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783). $3000 to $4000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 597. Manuscript geography book with 9 maps and colorful commentary (1834). $1500 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 588. Land grant signed by Confederate General John Buchanan Floyd (1851). $350 to $425
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 593. First printed atlas to contain a separate map of Texas (1835). $2500 to $3250
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 297. Charming Beatles map of Liverpool (1974). $475 to $600
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 591. Miniature atlas with 82 maps based on Duval (1678). $5500 to $6500
  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790

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