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[BKARTS] Rare copy of Darwin's 'Origin' among books stolen from Transy library



Rare copy of Darwin's 'Origin' among books stolen from Transy library

By Art Jester

Herald-leader Staff Writer

A first edition of Charles Darwin's famous work in which he set forth his
theory of evolution was among the rare items stolen Dec. 17 from the
Transylvania University library.

Darwin's book, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, was
published in 1859. The first edition may have been limited to about 1,600
copies.

Sarah Emmons, Transylvania's director of public relations, said the other
items taken from the rare book room of the library's special collections
were:

n A collection of 20 sketches, or pencil drawings, by John James Audubon,
done in about 1855 in preparation for his 1856-57 edition of Birds of
America.

n Hortus Sanitatis (translated as Garden of Health), a two-volume natural
history, described by Transylvania as "exceedingly rare." It was published
in the 1500s with handpainted, gold-illuminated woodcuts.

n An illuminated manuscript written in 1425 and handpainted in color in
Winchester, England, for the Knolles family.

Susan Brown, director of Transylvania's J. Douglas Gay Jr.-Frances Thomas
Carrick Library, said that it is really impossible to put a value on these
items.

For insurance purposes, they were valued at "several hundred thousand
dollars," she said, but would bring far more if they were put on the open
market.

Brown said she could not comment on the robbery.

She said the theft has caused the Transylvania library to review its
security measures, but she said she could not discuss them. The library is
currently closed and will reopen when classes resume Jan. 6.

Transylvania is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of the rare items or
for information leading to their recovery in good condition.

Emmons said all information will be kept confidential, including the
identity of the person or people who receive the reward.

According to Transylvania and Lexington police, the items were stolen by two
males in their early 20s. They made their getaway with two more suspects,
who were waiting in a newer model gray minivan, with a Kentucky temporary
license plate.

Anyone with information about the robbery should call Crime Stoppers at
(859) 253-2020 or from a cell phone, call *2020, or Transylvania's
department of public safety at (859) 233-8118. Lexington police Lt. James
Curless said the investigation is continuing.

"We are looking for any information that could be beneficial to this
investigation," he said.

Reach Art Jester at (859) 231-3489; 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3489; or
ajester@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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