RCMP in Nova Scotia say they don't yet know the value of the 1,300 rare books, antiques, documents, paintings and other items seized from a suburban home outside Halifax earlier this week.

Officers have been combing through one-of-a-kind documents and artwork from a house in Fall River. They believe the goods were stolen from several universities, museums and private collections.

RCMP Sgt. Colin MacLean said investigators have managed to price a few of the antiques, such as an 1891 painting of a schooner by W.H. Yorke, worth between $30,000 and $40,000. A set of three books about the history of Nova Scotia are thought to be worth between $4,000 and $5,000.


RCMP showcased some of the 1,300 items seized from a house in Fall River earlier this week. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

"Just with the small number of items here, there's a significant value to the items here — I would say in the range of at least several hundred thousand dollars," MacLean told reporters on Friday.

"Some items are very valuable, some items are just significant to the people who lost them and not of any huge value."

Some of the more unusual items include a suit of armour that was a movie prop and a gas mask thought to be from the First World War.

MacLean said the initial investigation determined most of the items are from Atlantic Canada, including P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador. The majority of items are from collections throughout Nova Scotia.

John Mark Tillmann, the owner of the Fall River house at the centre of the police investigation, has been charged with four counts of possession of stolen property. Police believe Tillmann amassed the collection over two decades.

RCMP are now working with local universities and other experts to determine the value and owners of many of the seized items. The investigation is expected to take several weeks to complete based on the volume of seized items.


RCMP estimate this 1891 painting of a barque by W.H. Yorke is worth between $30,000 and $40,000. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Import and export business

CBC News has obtained Tillmann's parole documents, which suggest he has a history of anger management issues.

In May 2010 he was granted day parole after serving time for assaulting and extorting money from a former partner.

The parole board outlined Tilllmann's tendency to lose his temper and engage in fights, road rage, and abusive relationships

But the documents said he was polite and respectful while taking violence prevention programs in prison.

During his parole hearing Tillmann admitted to other illegal activities. He said he purchased goods from others, knowing they were likely stolen, and then resold them.

In granting day parole, the board noted that Tillmann has a university degree and had been employed in the import and export business for a decade.

The document said once he was out of jail resurrecting his business could provide him with a source of income.