true story of the Alderman map thief
Island of Lost Maps
is an intriguing literary adventure story, written with flair,
imagination and precision."
Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
Miles Harvey, who will be on Grounds Sept. 27, will tell about
charting the story of an uncommon thief who was finally caught
by U.Va. police five years ago when they cracked the case of maps
missing from Alderman Library.
former columnist for Outside, will be reading and signing
his book, The Island of Lost Maps, in athe McGregor Room
of Alderman Library at 5 p.m. next week. His visit is sponsored
by the University
Bookstore, in cooperation with the Associates of the University
of Virginia Library.
Island of Lost Maps is a true story of a curious crime spree:
the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of centuries-old
maps -- often sliced from rare books -- from some of the most
prominent research libraries in the United States and Canada,
including Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Dartmouth and U.Va. The
perpetrator was an antiquarian dealer named Gilbert Bland Jr.,
whose cross-country slash-and-dash operation went virtually undetected
until he was tracked down in December by Sgt. Thomas Durrer of
the U.Va. Police
Department. By the time all was said and done, Bland had become
the most prolific map thief in American history.
Bland, a chameleon who changed careers and families without a
backward glance, seemed like terra incognita, unknown territory,
but Harvey became a surveyor -- scouting the world of explorers,
map collectors and dealers, high-stakes auctions, and the libraries
and museums that display antiquarian treasures -- as he traced
the map of Bland's life. The Island of Lost Maps is the
story of Bland's rise and fall as told by the antique dealers
who schooled him and the curators whose collections fed his obsession.
"One thing I found out from Harvey's book," said Michael
Plunkett, director of Special Collections, "is that Bland
was not a map-lover. He was nothing but a common thief."
conjunction with this event, Alderman Library will exhibit four
of Western civilization's rarest maps and atlases from its holdings,
including early world maps, Theatrum orbis terrarum by
Abraham Ortelius, dating from 1570, and a 1513 edition of Ptolemy's
Geographia. These are not retrieved maps that Bland cut
out of books, but are mentioned in Harvey's work.