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The American book theft ring I write about in Thieves of Book Row was very particular about scrubbing its books of library markings.

Throwing the book at 'Thieves of Book Row' - Los Angeles Times

A botched field-scrub could ruin the value of book — and was, counter-intuitively, an even more tell-tale sign of theft than even the presence of a library stamp, which could often be explained away. Book cleaning was done by a few trusted individuals; in the case of particularly tricky marks, like perforated stamps, the work could be outsourced to England. This is almost certainly what happened in Italy.

A Bolognese bookbinder, who could be trusted both to work with old paper and to keep his mouth shut, would be a go-to guy for tough marks. He would know how to clean pages or, if needed, get rid of them altogether, replacing the marked leaves with either close copies from other editions or pages manufactured expressly for the purpose. The worst news is, like any cottage industry that becomes successful enough to hire specialists, book theft rings that employ task-specific men soon need a guaranteed supply to justify their expense.

Thank you very much.

Create an account Receive notices of PDF catalogs in your fields of interest. Tell us of a book-related event you would like to see announced on our website. Create an account. First Name. After stealing his first manuscript at the age of 29 with a bad check, he went on to defraud dozens of booksellers with credit card numbers he collected from his job at a luxury department store. This thief was apprehended in due in part to the detective work of Ken Sanders, whom Bartlett profiles as being as dedicated to stopping book thievery as Gilkey was to perpetrating it.

In , over a thousand stolen library books were found in a storage unit in Verona Italy.

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With works by Aristotle and Galileo in the mix, the Girolamini heist has been called one of the worst to ever hit the rare book collecting world, and the damage is still being tallied. De Caro and his associates were eventually found out by a brother-and-sister team of whistle-blower librarians at the Girolamini who gave prosecutors video surveillance footage showing Mr.

Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It

Samuel May, and Abraham Lincoln. He was caught after a bookstore he pawned several stolen titles to tried to resell them to the Leicester Historical Society. Heath, who worked as a janitor at the college, was caught trying to get rid of a few more on Craigslist.


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Keep your friends close and your libraries closer, I guess. A book dealer during the Jazz Age in Manhattan, Gold was an organizer of a large smuggling ring. Thieves of Book Row by David McDade sheds light on the forgotten story of a wide-reaching conspiracy to raid American libraries and resell their most valuable acquisitions to antiquarian bookstores.


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The thieves met their downfall when they got too cocky and took on the New York Public Library, which had its own special investigator. After pilfering an incredibly rare book of poems by Edgar Allen Poe, most of the thieves involved with the ring eventually wound up behind bars.


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Leah Dearborn is a bibliophile and bookseller from the frigid North Shore of Massachusetts. A graduate of the journalism program at UMass Amherst, she spends her spare time blogging about books of course , history, politics, and events in the Boston area. Occasionally, she spits out something resembling fiction, and has previously served as a contributor to Steampunk Magazine.

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She collects typewriters and old novels and laments the fact that her personal library has outgrown her apartment. To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.

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Nice article. Rayner writes of his time at Cambridge University and his book thievery. Well written and a good read. It's more than likely to be out of print but I'm sure copies can be picked up on Amazon cheaply. Published in by Picador UK. Also available on the Kindle. Skip to Main Content Area. Hello, if this is your first time here, login with Facebook or create a free account to get started. Otherwise, Click here to log in.