Thursday, 4:30 PM
Boston library says more maps are missing
By Jenna Russell, Globe Staff
Thirty-six rare antique maps with an estimated value of close to $1 million are missing from the collection of the Boston Public Library, in addition to 34 stolen maps that were recovered during an investigation of confessed map thief E. Forbes Smiley III.
In an announcement Wednesday aimed at dealers who may see the missing maps turn up for sale, library officials released a detailed list of the lost documents, which include a 1613 map of "New France" drawn by explorer Samuel de Champlain and a 1787 Virginia map from a book by Thomas Jefferson.
"We'll shine the bright light and see if some of these things out there can find their way home," Boston Public Library President Bernard Margolis said.
All of the three dozen maps still missing were part of books or atlases Smiley used at the library in recent years, said Ronald Grim, curator of maps, but it is impossible to tell if the maps were still in the books at the time Smiley used them.
Smiley, a map dealer with a home on Martha's Vineyard, was sentenced to more than three years in prison in September after he confessed to stealing 97 rare maps worth an estimated $3 million from libraries in five cities including Boston, New York and London. Smiley, who was also ordered to pay $2 million in restitution to the libraries, cooperated with investigators and helped recover most of the maps from dealers and collectors.
Those maps, including 34 Smiley sliced out of books in the Boston library, will be returned to their collections.
The Boston library is not alone in discovering other missing maps besides those Smiley has confessed to taking. Harvard University has estimated that five maps are missing from its libraries, in addition to the eight maps it expects to get back in the Smiley case. Yale University has released a list of more than 70 maps that are still missing. The New York Public Library issued its own list of about 45 unrecovered maps.