When Nova Scotia police pulled John Mark Tillmann over last summer for violating the terms of his house arrest, they came across a strange artifact in his car: A handwritten letter from 1758 signed by British General James Wolfe (pictured) that, upon further investigation, turned out to have been stolen from the archives of Dalhousie University. Warrant in hand, police began searching Tillmann’s house in Fall River, Nova Scotia, on Friday, where they have found a trove of stolen artifacts, CBC reports.
Among the hundreds of suspected stolen objects cataglogued thus far are a very early and rare edition of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” and an 1819 painting by John Woolford that Tillmann took from the provincial legislature. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have reached out to the FBI for assistance in tracking down the rightful owners of the innumerable objects, which they estimate may be worth as much as one million Canadian dollars ($997,600).
“We believe that items such as books, documents, paintings, antiques were stolen from private collectors around Atlantic Canada, also from local universities, museums and even the legislature,” RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae told CBC. “It’s a vast undertaking.”
On Monday police charged Tillmann for having four stolen antiquities in his possession.
— Benjamin Sutton
(Image: Detail from “Portrait of Major-General James Wolfe,” ca. 1760-80, attributed to to Joseph Highmore. Via Wikipedia Commons.)