Uber-Rare Books Pilfered by Librarian Head Home

National librarian spent years secretly grabbing 56 tomes
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2013 8:22 AM CDT
Uber-Rare Books Librarian Pilfered Head Home
Sweden has received books stolen from its National Library.   (Shutterstock)

After a librarian quietly stole rare books from Sweden's National Library, two of them turned up at a bookstore in Baltimore; now, Sweden is finally getting them back. But the Kungliga Biblioteket has a long way to go: Senior librarian Anders Burius spent a decade stealing 56 "rare or one-of-a-kind books," and just four have been rediscovered, the Wall Street Journal reports. Three of them were in the US, and more are believed to have been sold to American dealers.

Burius, who later committed suicide, confessed to stealing books starting in 1995 and selling them to a German auction house called Ketterer Kunst. "He would take them in small chunks to Ketterer and sell them under an assumed name for cash after erasing markings that would show where they came from," says a lawyer for the library. The two latest recoveries are worth a combined $255,000, according to officials; Das illustrate Mississippithal and Description de la Louisiane both offer centuries-old looks at American territory, with the latter reportedly containing the first-ever map of Louisiana. Click for details of the search. (Read more Sweden stories.)

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