In the spring of 2021, a book from the Bergius library appeared at an auction in New York. The strange thing was that the copy still had its ExLibris from the Bergius library. It is usually removed by book thieves. A long process was thus set in motion to, if possible, return the book to the Swedish Academy of Sciences’ book deposition at Stockholm University Library (SUB).
With the help of the police’s NOA department for cultural heritage crimes, a prosecutor and with the help of the FBI in the USA, as well as after the auction company (Sotheby’s) realized that the book belonged to the Bergius library, the seller in the USA chose to generously donate the book back to Sweden.
The book in question is John Josselyn’s New England’s Rarities printed in London in 1672, and although small in format, this title commands an asking price in the order of SEK 100,000. During this process, SUB staff took the opportunity to inventory the entire Bergius library and found that only this title had gone astray since the early 1800s. One can assume that it must have been at the time when researchers were still allowed to borrow such book and then happened to take it with them. For a long time now, researchers can only read the books from this collection under guard in special reading rooms, which suggests that New England’s Rarities went astray a long time ago.
The book was returned to SUB by criminal inspector Mart Nyman and prosecutor Eva Wintzell, who handed the book over to head librarian Wilhelm Widmark. Karl Grandin from the Academy was given the honorary task of placing the book in the right place in the chamber of rarities at SUB.