29 GLASS LANTERN SLIDES OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON
In late December of 2017, I was informed by a friend who runs a website that features my research on the British author William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918) that some lantern slides (large glass slides about 4inches by 4 inches) were being offered for sale by a person whose online address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was surprised since I had purchased them in 1970 through a professional researcher I had engaged through THE BRITISH LIBRARY. This gentleman, John Ringrose, worked for me for several years finding information on Mr. Hodgson and also interviewing persons who had known Mr. Hodgson. Mr. Ringrose located the lantern slides and arranged to purchase them for me. The box of slides was heavy and fragile and Mr. Ringrose had the slides copied on to 35 mm. film as a precaution. Since they were too fragile to mail, by 1972 I had arranged for my grandfather, Prof. Robert E. G. Harris, who was on sabbatical in Europe, to stopover in London and pick up the slides for me. Unfortunately, the box was too heavy for my aged and fragile grandfather to hand carry, so they were left with Mr. Ringrose. Over the years as I was getting married, raising a family and completing my University work, I was assured the box of slides was in safe hands with Mr. Ringrose. He had placed a slip of paper inside the box of slides with my name and (then) address, his own name and address, and my grandfather’s name and address. The slip was inside the box when it was auctioned off, and when Dr. Allen received it, as he sent me a scan of it. He indicated he would prefer to sell the slides to someone like myself who was a scholar.
When I told him who I was, he acknowledged that my name was on a slip of paper in the box, but when I stated the slides were mine and not his, he ceased responding to my emails in early 2018. I assumed he had sold them to a higher bidder. On 06 January 2018 I sent him this email:
Dr. Allen: I am disappointed exceedingly in your continued silence, not to say that you clearly realized you sold my stolen glass slides. You knew before you sold them that they were mine—my email not only told you that I had purchased them but you sent me a scan of a list found with the slides with my name and address, the name of my researcher and my grandfather’s name, all names and persons that I had mentioned to you connected with my purchase of the slides. Now you have placed me in an invidious position. I am going to pursue this theft of my property, either in your country or in mine (where I believe the slides were sold). My next step, on Monday, 08 January 2018, will be to report this theft to HM Customs, Inland Revenue, Scotland Yard, Interpol and the FBI plus any Suffolk police office I can locate. As a prominent Doctor, I know you want to do the right thing to rectify this wrong. Yours, R(andy) Alain Everts
Of course he has never replied to any further emails, so I contacted the Suffolk Constabulary and was put into contact with PC Teri Hatch email@example.com
She made several enquiries at my insistence since I could get no information from the
Auction House: LACY SCOTT & KNIGHT, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk 1P33 3AA / 01284 748 625. However, Hatch did contact them and then emailed to me:
- I have spoken to the person who placed them in the auction, due to the high volume of items she sells she states it is most likely she purchased these in a job lot but cannot recall where from and doesn’t have records.
I have spoken to the buyer of the auction purchased these items in good faith.
I have spoken to the auction house who state vendor is a regular vendor at the auction and buys and sells frequently.
My response to PC Hatch:
However, this does not accord with the fact that a slip of paper was inside the box of slides with my name and address on it, plus two more names and addresses which clearly indicated the ownership of the box of slides. He may have bought the slides in good faith, but the buyer acknowledged the true ownership when he sent me a scan of the slip of paper with my name and address and was excited that he could sell me back my own property. I am glad the auction house uses a regular vendor who deals in stolen items. This does not make it any less of a crime. A legitimate vendor would have records concerning these priceless glass slides. She does not have any records because the box of slides was stolen. Once again, I note that it appears all one has to do to fence stolen property is to follow this dubious method used by the vendor and the auction house. You may have closed the case, but I am not closing it until I get my property back.
I then emailed PC Hatch to keep the results of her investigations since I was preparing to hire an attorney. My main question is: Am I able to retrieve my slides (Dr. Allen recently claimed to a friend of mine in an email that he has not sold the slides) and/or to sue for their value the lady who auctioned them off, the Auction House, and Dr. Allen? In March, I see the slides were auctioned off on eBay, and it appears that they will be sold and resold, despite being stolen property.