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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A good thing for librarians to do when they are caught stealing maps from their own collections.

The continuing saga of the Wytfliet atlas is that it appears that this volume sold at Sothebys to me is in fact the one that was stolen by the manuscripts librarian from the National Library of Sweden.  It is my plan to return the book to Sothebys when they give me permission to do so.  Here is a letter from the current librarian telling us what happened after the Librarian of Manuscripts from 1995 to 2004 was caught:

From: Greger Bergvall [mailto:Greger.Bergvall@kb.se]
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 5:50 AM
To: Kate Hunter
Subject: Wytfliet atlas

Dear Kate Hunter, I have now examined the photographs you sent and compared them with photographs of our atlas.

Unfortunately we only have three photographs of the maps in our atlas since it was stolen before november in 2002 . We have the Utrisque Hemispherii Delinatio map, the Cuba Insula Et Iamaica map and the Nova Francia Et Canada map.
I have marked ink stains, fold marks, printmarks and other spots with a yellow frame and it would be helpful if you also could examine the maps in your atlas to see if they are consistent. I have therefore attached the pictures of our three maps.

As mentioned earlier, the other characteristics of our atlas are; binding in contemporary vellum, the title-page is slightly spotted and some leaves are minimally creased in the lower margin besides the fact that it is version B of Wytfliets atlas from 1597 with corrected pagination and an errata list at the end.

The former Head that confessed of stealing books from the library committed suicide in 2004 just five days after he left custody and before the trial had started.

The police investigation mentions the Wytfliets atlas a few times and the head also confessed of grinding away the exlibris in some of the books. So we would also appreciate if you could examine the frontleaf to see if there are any marks from grinding.  

Thank you for being so cooperative.

Kind regards
Greger Bergvall

Greger Bergvall
Handskrifter, kartor och bilder/Manuscripts, maps and pictures
Kungl. biblioteket, The National library of Sweden
P.O. Box 5039, SE - 102 41 Stockholm Sweden
Telefon/Phone:+46 10 709 33 44

Here is our replay to Greger Bergvall:

Dear Greger,

Thank you very much for your e-mail.

My colleagues and I have now compared the photographs you attached of your missing copy with the copy of the book we have here.

It is our opinion that the three photos attached are of the copy that Mr. Arader bought at Sotheby’s in 2003. They show that there is a wormhole in the bottom left-hand corner of the double-hemisphere world map, and a small spot of foxing in the neat-line of “Cuba insula et Jamaica”, that exactly match the copy here.

We will now begin the legal process of returning the book to Sotheby’s, and hope that it will not be too long before the Wytfliet is back in its rightful home.


Here is my reply back to Greger Bergvall.    Unless a library publicizes that books have been stolen there is no way that members of the trade can work toward returning the books.  Yes.  It IS embarrassing for a librarian to be seen as a poor steward of his collection.  VERY embarrassing.  But my feeling is that librarians should immediately give notice that they have been robbed and specify the books that have been taken. 

I am not sure that a notice was published alerting the me that books were stolen.  Let's see.  

Here is my reply

Thank you Gunnar.

At this point it would help a great deal if you could get the auction house that sold this book for your librarian to give us the name of the person that bought this book at their auction.

It would be good to be able to show the exact trail that this book has taken since I purchased it from Sothebys.

Please also let me know exactly when you gave notice to the outside world when this book was stolen.  Please also let me see the list of ALL the other books that were stolen.  Please also let me know if any of the other books have been recovered.  Please also tell me the process with which the books were recovered.  Please also let me know the dealers that were involved in doing the right thing and the dealers that did not cooperate with your requests.  Please also let me know what steps you have taken to prevent thefts from your library.  Please also let me know the list of books that your library would like to acquire in the future in the field of the history of cartography.

As you already know it has been my life's work to prosecute people who have stolen maps and atlases from libraries for the last 40 years.  It is my great hope that you will work with me to give a FULL ACCOUNT of every detail of this matter and a list of every book that was stolen and every book that has been recovered so far.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.



Graham Arader
29 East 72nd Street

Let's see what answer is given!?!

Here is the FIRST answer and my reply.  My hope is that a two way street can be constructed.

Thank you Greger

Wonderful to see that you are looking at my blog and that you are aware of "ABE" as well where we have over $100,000,000 listed for sale on line.

With virtually the only significant stock of rare maps and atlases for sale in the world, it is my hope that a strong effort will be made to support the ONLY dealer that has taken severe losses over the last 40 years returning stolen maps and working with the FBI to put 5 map thieves in prison.

And, of course the map thieves have stayed away from me for over 20 years because they know my fierce position.  Instead they go to people like Richard Lan who received the Ulm Ptolmey that was stolen from the National Library of Spain a few years ago!

You of all people should know that this business cant take $275,000 losses and survive without aggressive support from institutions such as yours.

Please consider giving us the valued opportunity to have a business relationship with our library.

Thank you,

Graham Arader

On Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 3:03 AM, Greger Bergvall <Greger.Bergvall@kb.se> wrote:
Dear W. Graham Arader III, I saw the information about the Wytfliet affair on your blog and have to clarify one thing.
It was not my predecessor that stole the atlas and other books. He has retired and has nothing to do with the thefts from the National library of Sweden.

The thief was the former Head for the Manuscript department from 1995 to 2004, and he did not work with the map collections.

I will come back to you concerning the questions you wrote to our National librarian.

Best regards
Greger Bergvall

Greger Bergvall
Handskrifter, kartor och bilder/Manuscripts, maps and pictures
Kungl. biblioteket, The National library of Sweden
P.O. Box 5039, SE - 102 41 Stockholm Sweden
Telefon/Phone:+46 10 709 33 44


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