Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2023 Issue

Rare Books, Rare Tortoises, and a Rare Theft

Young Galapagos Tortoise (from St. Petersurg Police Department press release).

What do rare books and Galapagos Tortoises have in common? Not much, but according to a story reported by the St. Petersburg (Florida) Police Department, they do share a home with collector/dealer/arrestee Joshua McCarty-Thomas (46) and his wife, Dashae (29). They were in the business of selling books, though their interest in the turtles is not so clear. According to the police, they were not the owners of the books or tortoises, nor an agent for the owners.

 

According to police reports, this odd combination of stolen items reflects Joshua McCarty-Thomas' limited selectivity in what he stole. Reportedly, he is a suspect in a couple of comic book thefts in Florida. In one, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the comics were valued at “thousands of dollars.” One was sold on eBay from an account belonging to the McCarty-Thomases. And then there were dozens of comics stolen from the Hall of Heroes Museum in Indiana. The owner described those as Marvel classics published from 1930-1950, worth “tens of thousands of dollars if not more,” according to WFLA.com. The sale of one of those was traced and found to have been shipped from the McCarty-Thomas residence.

 

That wasn't all. Earlier this year, Joshua McCarty-Thomas and another man were arrested for burglary of a home. In that theft, items taken included jewelry, designer purses, acoustic guitars, and a rifle. They have also been valued at tens of thousands of dollars. He pleaded not guilty.

 

Then there are the rare books. A news release from the St. Petersburg Police Department says books were stolen from Haslam's Book Store and Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg. Each was described as “rare books worth thousands of dollars.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, this included a rare folio collection of the Boston American newspaper.

 

The Tampa Bay Times also did some additional searching into Joshua McCarty-Thomas' past and found he had stolen books before, including a copy of the rare and very valuable Maxwell Code from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in Ohio. Other books were stolen from a dealer. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and that he comply with mental health treatment so that he could become a “positive contributor” to society. Obviously, that last part did not work.

 

Finally, there were the tortoises. They were stolen from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in St. Augustine last November. There were two of them. They were young ones or else the theft would have been prohibitively difficult. The police report pointed out, “Once grown, these giant reptiles can reach 600 lbs. and live 150 years.” Elephant/tortoise folios, rare and antiquarian. One was found in a freezer, and unfortunately, Galapagos Tortoises don't live in the Arctic. It was not alive. The other one did survive and was running around (metaphorically running, not literally) in the yard. It's owner was identified because it had a chip implanted. What they planned to do with turtles is unclear. I don't know how one goes about fencing a Galapagos Tortoise. Apparently, the McCarty-Thomases didn't either.

 

Joshua McCarty-Thomas is facing eight charges, four of dealing in stolen property, two of burglary, and two from Marion County, site of one of the comic book thefts. Dashae McCarty-Thomas was charged with three counts of dealing in stolen property. Both were placed in jail pending their raising bail. Ironically, Dashae McCarty-Thomas was employed as a Correctional Officer at the Department of Corrections. She has reportedly been dismissed from that position, but she may yet again see the inside of a prison, though the outcome of the charges will determine from which side of the bars.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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