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  #1  
Old 03-03-2005, 06:54 AM
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Posted By: Richard Simon

I don't have any physical evidence so I will protect the "innocent/guilty", by not naming names, but I have heard the following stories for years, from various sources, and was wondering if anyone else is aware of them?

1 - Many baseball cards were stolen from the New York Public Library Burdick collection, many years ago.
previous thread: http://www.network54.com/Forum/message?forumid=153652&messageid=1102165389

2 - Many signed items were stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

previous thread: http://www.network54.com/Forum/message?forumid=153652&messageid=1098811453

3 - People would stand on autograph lines at shows with a matted photo, with a cut out at the bottom of the mat for the signature. After getting the autograph, the matting would be disassembled and voila the signature was at the bottom of a blank 8x10 sheet of paper. The paper would then be used to type a letter of provenance about a memorabilia item.

Do these stories sound familiar?
-----

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Old 03-03-2005, 07:17 AM
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Posted By: jamie

story #2 definitely is true- a collection of autographed 'first pitch
baseballs owned by walter johnson and signed by 5 presidents was stolen in the 70's and recovered only recently. the article i read seems to indicate that security at the baseball hall of fame was less than, well, secure and hints that other items might have been absconded as well

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Old 03-03-2005, 07:58 AM
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Posted By: barrysloate

The New York Public Library actually has a book that lists all the items that are no longer part of the collection when it was inventoried in 1922. The pieces no longer in the collection are all significant team and Hall of Famer CdV's and cabinet cards. Draw your own conclusions.

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Old 03-03-2005, 09:04 AM
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Posted By: jackgoodman

for one of the pickier HOF signers who wouldn't sign bats with multi-autographs. The matting covered the other signature. The collector pulled off the matting in front of the signer after he had signed to show him he had been had. Ruined it for everyone else from that day forward.

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Old 03-03-2005, 10:45 AM
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Posted By: jay behrens

Lefty O'Doul's restuarant in San Francisco used to have a great collection of pictures, sigs and memorabilia all over the place, but over the years, pretty much of it was stolen. So so food there, but still lots of neat pics and memorabilia there.

Jay

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Old 03-03-2005, 11:36 AM
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Posted By: Max Weder

Barry

You mentioned "The New York Public Library actually has a book that lists all the items that are no longer part of the collection when it was inventoried in 1922". Is a copy of that book accessible? I have a copy of the NYPL Bulletin which lists the inventory that Spalding donated, but I haven't seen anything from the library which lists what is missing. (On another point, is the collection still accessble to the public and still worth viewing on a trip to NYC?)

In B.C., you cannot acquire good title from stolen material, and there is no prescription or limitation period that starts to run in the absence of knowledge by the victim of possession of the material by a particular person.

Does anyone have any thoughts about clear title in NY? Has anyone identified items which probably arose from the Spalding collection being offered for auction or sale recently? Has the NYPL ever taken any legal steps to try and recover any of these items?

Max

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Old 03-03-2005, 11:52 AM
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Posted By: barrysloate

Max,
Many good questions. First, the inventory from 1922 is available periodically in the book trade; I have a copy. It usually sells for a few hundred dollars. The book the library has of the missing inventory I believe is just a single copy that is for their use and visitors of the collection only. I was there recently researching something (which will occupy page one of my March catalog) and the librarian who was helping me pulled out the "other" book, so there didn't seem to be any great secret that most of the best material is long gone. The law is the same everywhere- no one legally has title to any stolen material, but it is clear that the library has minimal interest in trying to recover anything unless it walked itself back through the door. Some of the photography has a library stamp on the back, but these can be removed to look like scrapbook damage. Some were never stamped. I think unfortunately most library collections get pillaged over time. A couple of years ago I tried to buy a scrapbook from a family that was filled with thousands of 19th century cigarette cards, among them nearly 200 Old Judge baseball, plus Buchner's , A & G, etc. Because the family was well-to-do, they told me they wished to donate it to a library so that others could enjoy it. I tried to explain to them the extant that others will in fact enjoy it: that the harsh reality is the better OJ's will ultimately be pilfered. I think every museum and library has faced the same dilemma by letting the public view things that are small and valuable (I don't think any pianos have been taken from the Metropolitan Museum's rare instrument collection).

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Old 03-03-2005, 01:28 PM
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Posted By: warshawlaw

My understanding is that O'Doul's son sold off the memorabilia (mostly period photos) and replaced it with reprints.

My advice to someone with a collection of significant cards is to not donate it to a museum because it will never be seen again as intended even if it is not pilfered. The Met experience convinces me of that reality. I would suggest instead that they have the items scanned so that they can be shared with reference libraries and collectors all over the world and that the original items be auctioned off so they will appreciated and preserved and loved by the end recipients.

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Old 03-03-2005, 01:46 PM
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Posted By: barrysloate

I tried to convince them that donating the scrapbooks was pointless, but to no avail. The Burdick collection is a perfect example where so many people wanted to see the baseball cards that they just got fed up showing them. Once word gets out that a library or museum has those cards, they will be bombarded relentlessly by people who want to make an appointment to see them. Then little by little, cards will mysteriously disappear. Bad idea on their part, but I couldn't change their minds.

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Old 03-03-2005, 02:25 PM
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Posted By: Jimmy Leiderman

Barry is correct.
Most of the 19c BB photographs I saw at the NYPL while doing some research back in october were already stamped.
The 1922 inventory book can be purchased in reprint edition for about $20 from Martino Publishing.


http://www.martinopublishing.com/ndescription.htm
(scroll down)


The NYPL photograph room inventory book has some pencil notes on items recovered. Too bad there were not many
I think some items other than photographs have been stolen too.
I was looking for some scorebooks from the St. George's Cricket Club that are listed on the inventory but now appear to be missing.

A digitized part of the Spalding's Photography Collection is available to view in beta version at NYPL computers or at least in room 308.
Hope someday they'll make it public on the internet after taking some image theft precautions.

Hope this helps,

Jimmy

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