Nova Scotia police say they have recovered hundreds of allegedly stolen items from John Mark Tillmann's Fall River home. (Phonse Jessome/CBC)

The Nova Scotia man accused of amassing a fortune of stolen antiques and precious documents shouldn't be released on bail because of the "cultural historical significance" of the exhibits, prosecutors argued in court on Thursday.

Mounties say they’ve found almost 1,000 artifacts at the home of John Mark Tillmann in Fall River. They suspect he pilfered the collection over two decades.

The artifacts include an 1819 painting and a first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

The 51-year-old has been charged with four counts of possession of stolen property.

Prosecutor Mark Heerema said he doesn’t think Tillmann should be granted bail.

"The nature of the charges, the value of the items, their cultural historical significance and aspects of Mr. Tillmann's past are leading the Crown to that position."

Tillmann was silent as sheriff deputies led him into a Dartmouth provincial court Thursday morning.

He's been in jail since police arrested him at his home last Friday.

His lawyer, Brian Smith, said the significance of the items shouldn't play a role in the bail hearing.

"There are other factors that have to be considered that are far more important than the subject matter of the actual offence," he said.

Smith said the RCMP haven't told him what they've seized from Tillmann's home.

The prosecutors said they expect the volume and value of the collection to make it a long and complex case. They've already appointed two lawyers to handle it.

Tilllmann will return to court on Feb. 27 to set a date for his bail hearing.

Until then he'll wait behind bars, but will be back in court on an unrelated assault charge.