Nova Scotia

Stolen Charles Darwin book to be returned to Halifax university

U.S. Homeland Security and Canada's RCMP got together in New York for the handover of a rare book stolen from Mount Saint Vincent University's library, a first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

John Tillman of Fall River serving nine years for antiquities thefts

A rare first-edition copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was recovered in New York after being stolen in Halifax in 2012.

Another valuable artifact, one of the many stolen by Nova Scotian antiquity thief John Mark Tillman, is trickling its way back to its rightful owner.

A rare first-edition copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, part of a huge cache of items stolen from museums and libraries, was handed over to Nova Scotia Mounties in a ceremony Thursday at the Canadian Consulate in New York.

The book will be returned to Mount Saint Vincent University library where it was taken from a locked glass cabinet by Tillman, 51, of Fall River. Two other  Charles Darwin books Darwinism: An Exposition of the Theory of Natural Selection and The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom were also taken in the heist.

Tillman sold the On the Origin of Species to a Canadian collector who then sold the book at a Sotheby's New York auction on June 15, 2012 for $42,500.

"The return of the Darwin book is the final piece of the puzzle in what has been a lengthy investigation into the thefts from almost every intellectual property in Atlantic Canada," said Constable Darryl Morgan, lead RCMP investigator on the Tillman file. 

"Museums, libraries, archives, private collections and antique dealers had fallen victim to over three decades of pilfering of their holdings by John Mark Tillman." 

RCMP arrested Tillman and searched his Fall River home for six days in January 2013.  In September 2013, Tillman entered guilty pleas to 40 charges. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

On Feb. 6, 2014,  Homeland Security obtained On the Origin of Species from Sotheby's New York.  

"The recovery of this Charles Darwin book is a testament to the collaboration between HSI and our foreign law enforcement partners who devote countless resources to protect the cultural property of all nations," said Glenn Sorge, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York.  


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