Book Theft a Serious Offense

We were reminded the other day, talking with the head librarians of Harvard and Yale, that theft of volumes remains an aggravating constant in the lives of book collectors.  They seldom forget an offense.

One of the recent Earls of Macclesfield was sticky about admitting visitors to his peerless collections at Shirburn Castle.  “Why so?” asked a frustrated scholar who confronted the Earl.  “Well,” said the Earl, “the Macclesfields had let several scholars use the collection, and one of them had absconded with a rare volume.” The scholar was appalled.  “When did this happen?” he pressed the Earl.  “In 1735,” said the Earl solemnly.