A collection of more than £2m worth of incunabula, early books and manuscripts belonging to three dealers were taken while on their way to the California International Antiquarian Book Fair.
Brian Lake, security chair for the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, said: “This is a major theft for the book trade. It involved early books and manuscripts. They have all been catalogued and are all easily identifiable.”
The three dealers were from London, Italy and Germany.
More than 100 items were taken from trunks housed in a warehouse in Feltham, near Heathrow, on the night of January 29. Only books were stolen during the break-in, despite other valuable items present in the warehouse.
London Stolen Art Database
Dealers and auctioneers have already been contacted and the full list of titles has been logged with both the London Stolen Art Database and the website stolen-book.org which is run by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.
Among the most identifiable items are a late 15th century north Italian illuminated manuscript within a late 18th century armorial binding with the arms of Ferdinand IV of Naples, and a copy of Jacobus de Forlivi’s scientific tract (after Giacomo Della Torre) De intensione et remissione formarum c.1476-77, with marginal notes and calculations by three contemporary hands. They had retail prices of €38,000 and €58,000 respectively.
The Metropolitan Police Service’s Art and Antiques Unit is working with officers from Hounslow Borough Police on the matter.
A spokesman said it is actively investigating the “commercial burglary”. Readers with any information have been asked to contact the police via 101 quoting the crime reference number is 0502127/17.
A list of the books stolen has been circulated on the Stolen Book Database by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB).