Larry Dziubek forwarded this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette update to the story of the thefts from the rare book collection of
the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. There is no new information on the numismatic literature held there, but the former archivist and a local
bookseller are under investigation in the case. -Editor
The former archivist of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s rare book collection told investigators he conspired with the owner of an
Oakland bookseller since the 1990s to steal and resell items taken from there.
Gregory Priore, who was terminated from the library on June 28, 2017, and John Schulman, who co-owns Caliban Book Shop, are under investigation
for theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief, according to hundreds of pages of documents unsealed Thursday in Allegheny County Common
No charges have been filed in the case.
The documents, which include applications for search warrants, inventories from completed searches and affidavits laying out probable cause in the
investigation, have been sealed since last summer.
They reveal that a total of nearly 320 items were removed from the Oliver Room at the library’s main branch in Oakland, valued at more than $8
Of those items, dozens were recovered in the Caliban Book Shop Warehouse in Wilkinsburg during searches there in August, court records show. Among
them, “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” Isaac Newton, 1803, and “Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” Isaac Newton, 1833.
Also recovered were maps and plates and loose pages believed to have been cut from books in the collection.
The affidavit noted the recovery at the warehouse of two Mercator-Hondius maps in a plastic sleeve, which also contained an eBay receipt showing a
sale of the items for $149.99 from Nov. 2, 2008. The payment was sent to an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org, which investigators said
belonged to Caliban.
Investigators with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office were called in in June 2017 and, according to the documents unsealed Thursday,
began executing search warrants in August.
Among the places searched were the homes of both Mr. Priore and Mr. Schulman, as well as the Caliban Book Shop and warehouse.
It wasn’t until the search of his home on Aug. 24, according to an affidavit, that Mr. Priore “admitted having conspired with Schulman since the
late 1990s in the theft and selling of rare books, maps and/?or plates from the Oliver Room.”
To read the complete article, see:
Court documents detail theft of rare maps, books, prints from Carnegie Library
This is a shock to me, as I knew and worked with both gentlemen during my time in Pittsburgh. As mentioned in the prior
E-Sylum article, I catalogued and appraised the numismatic literature in the rare book room holdings, working with Greg Priore who later
helped me arrange a tour for numismatic bibliophiles during an ANA convention. The Caliban bookshop was a regular haunt - it's right around a
corner from the Carnegie Museum and Library complex. John Schulman performed an appraisal for me when I donated my Pittsburgh postcard collection to
the Heinz History Center.
As a couple article commenters rightly noted, it's possible that the bookseller was misled, and the article describes potentially falsified
deacquisition papers that could have been used to paper over the thefts. That eBay email address is troubling, though.
Let's let the justice system do its job to complete the full investigation. Unravelling this mess could take years. Meanwhile, the numismatic
literature community should be on guard for offerings of material that may have come from this source. My earlier request for information from the
police investigators did not generate a response. Here are some excerpts from the comments. -Editor
Hiram Funbun writes:
It's a shame that Mr. Schulman's name and reputation are dragged so carelessly into this article. Booksellers are regularly asked to
purchase materials from, or to sell materials on behalf of, libraries. As a senior library staff member at Carnegie, Mr. Priore's assertions that
materials he was offering had been deaccessioned would be taken at face value by most dealers, especially if accompanied by documents on [Carnegie
Library] letterhead. Since no charges have been brought against Schulman, it seems entirely possible that he was a victim, not a perpetrator, in this
case. Yet the article's author does nothing to avoid the implication that Mr. Schulman was an accomplice.
Ellen Smith writes:
The former archives director looks like a financially desperate man who cultivated a friendship with Caliban owner, whose only "crime"
may have been trusting him about the provenance of these items.
There is a very good chance that Priore had been misleading Caliban throughout this caper. This article alone suggests that he has a history of
lying, financial stress, and fabrication of documents. It is to be hoped that this investigation clears Caliban of wrongdoing. Anyone who knows the
owners understands that this is not what they are about.
Here is an excerpt from an earlier E-Sylum article on numismatic highlights of the collection. We don't know if any
of these are missing, but be on the lookout just in case. -Editor
"Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's numismatic literature collection is very strong in books, catalogs, research notes, and correspondence.
The areas represented include: Early American copper coinage, colonial coinage, communion tokens and prison money. Due to their connection with WPNS,
the library collection is also very strong in items written by or formerly owned by WPNS and its members.
"Highlights are: Panoramus Antiqua 1695, a handwritten manuscript by Valentine on Sassonian Coins; Rudding's Coinage of Great
Britain; Burns' The Coinage of Scotland; and Clapp's leatherbound personal copy of his own book, The Cents of the Years
1798-1799. Another rarity is a set of The Numismatist, a periodical in continuous publication since 1888. Only a dozen complete sets are
known to exist. The key to the set is the first six volumes."
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
CARNEGIE LIBRARY NUMISMATIC LITERATURE
LIBRARY RARE BOOK ROOM (http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v11n22a05.html
CARNEGIE LIBRARY OF PITTSBURGH RARE BOOK THEFTS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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