A story from last year gives a clue to the gang behind the Shakespeare folio theft:
Happy ending for stolen rare book
By JAMES WILLOUGHBYN
A RARE book, worth more than £2,000, stolen five years ago from an Alnwick bookshop has been returned home – all the way from America.
George Adams Senior’s 1746 title – Micrographia Illustrata, First Edition – was swiped from Barter Books in 2002 and later taken across the Atlantic to an Alabama antiques store.
But, the store’s owner Axel Hein became suspicious of the Barter Books bandit as he was looking “shifty and changing his story a lot”.
Mr Hein looked on the Antiquarian Booksellers Association website, which notifies browsers of stolen books, and matched the description of the lost book to the one he had seen in his store.
Barter Books had described the book as: “Edges soiled. In need restoration. First four plates are loose and damaged.” Mr Hein subsequently alerted Interpol, the international police organisation.
Barter Books owner Stuart Manley said: “The condition of the book and the way the man acted led Axel to believe that it was our book. He alerted Interpol who then contacted Northumbria Police. Then in June last year, we received a call from the police telling us they had found it.”
The book, which, if in mint condition can fetch up to around £11,000, is one of the earliest books on microscopes and there are only about half a dozen in the world.
Barter Books had placed the title under the “very special books” category in their appeal for its return.
Because of this, Micrographia – along with other titles – was kept in a glass case in the shop.
Stuart said: “There was no damage to the case so he must have distracted a shop assistant and taken the book. The price of the book was £2,200. We didn’t know straight away and we thought it had gone forever at that point. We registered it on the website but we heard nothing for four years.
“To get the book back was an unexpected surprise because we didn’t expect to see it again. It has been all the way to Alabama and back.”
The thief, Paul William Powell, 60, from the Trimdon area of County Durham, subsequently served a year’s probation. Stuart added: “We have already thanked Axel and we are going to send him a $200 cheque – and a copy of the Gazette when it comes out!”
Last Updated: 03 May 2007
Art Hostage comments:
Cannot believe the Harry Potter connection was not made for this good news story.
As Alnwick Castle, the masterpiece of the Northumberland English town of Alnwick, and is the scene of many of Harry Potter's exploits, filmed at the castle, I am sure some of the Harry Potter magic has contributed to this wonderful turn of events and Young Potter's magic must be given credit.
New Comment about truth behind stolen Alnwick book recovery
Well my dear friends I appreciate being linked to Harry Potter. Now the truth about the return of the book.
Interpol had very little to do with the recovery of the book.
The FBI and US Customs are responsible. Mr Powell was not convicted on the book because no one from the UK side would identify the book and testify for the US gov.
Mr Powell was convicted in the US for smuggling ivory and other items. For this he received 2yrs probation in the US.
The thief Paul William Powell has many more items, books , paintings jewelry in the US; but US authorities can not get the co-operation of UK authorities .
There are probably many more items that were owned by UK citizens but they will never be returned due to the lack of co-operation of UK authorities.
I have never received a thank you from the bookshop. Currently Mr. Powell has filed suit against me in a US court for 3000.00 USD.
I am still in possession of some of the property he brought to this country which are probably also stolen.
But I will not do the research to find the rightful owners.
Alnwck Book shop Has never thanked me in anyway.
Not that it matters ,I would have done that for anyone.But due to the expenses ,I can not continue to spend the time to find the rightful owners of the paintings,art objects and jewelry.brought to America by Mr. Powells little international enterprise.
Food for thought !!
Latest comment throws new light on this Powell chap
Thank you Mr. Manley of Barter Books.
He did as he said he would he did thank me and sent the 200.00 cheque. It is appreciated.I apologize for getting ahead of him.
He is a man of his word and honorable.A large part of the credit for the return of the book also goes to Special Agent Cary Straub of the FBI and Senior Agent James .
Also I was informed today, by another antique dealer that Mr. Powell is back in business trying to import items back into the US. He is currently seeking another patsy in the US.
So dear friends in the UK watch youre belongings and merchandise Powell is on the prowl again!!!