He Who Steals My Purse Stills Trash, but He Who Steals My Book….

quill pen and parchmentBack in the Middle Ages, when books were written by hand in natural light only (because candles were deemed too dangerous around the books), the best way to prevent a book from being stolen or damaged was to include a book curse. (Fortunately most people believed in such things then. )

Nowadays libraries and archives rely on theft detection strips, sensitizing/desensitizing stations, , traffic control, and surveillance measures.  (Most people do not seem as susceptible to curses these days.)  Unfortunately, thefts from both regular and special collections seems to be on the rise.  It can be books, documents, artifacts, or parts of the same.

On my last trip to the  National Archives in College Park, Maryland, there was a rogues’ gallery of known archive thieves at the entrance to the second floor research center.

Why do we steal?  Do we want the secret satisfaction of owning/handling/seeing something that nobody else will have access too?  Do we think we are getting something over on the Man or Woman?

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17 thoughts on “He Who Steals My Purse Stills Trash, but He Who Steals My Book….”

  1. I was searching for a book to complete research for my latest book (in German). One copy only existed in the U.S. and when I requested a look at it, it turned out that it had been missing for 8 years. Fortunately, I found a copy at the national library in Austria and they were good enough to copy the entire text for me. Book thieves should be banished to an island where there are no books, TVs or cell phones. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know that Cynthia. Now I have to start looking more carefully to see if I can find out what some of those ways are. I have seen the watermarks or hallmarks on pictures, but otherwise, not too sure. Happy New Year. When is Myrtle III planned?

      Liked by 1 person

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