Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The No. 44 Society

This year’s program will kick off on September 10 at the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) with a tour of the exhibition “First Global Conflict: Contemporary Views of the Great War” by curators Tony Hynes, Dennis Sears, and Caroline Szylowicz. Commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I, this show will feature photographs, manuscripts, and printed materials taken from the RBML’s extensive collections.
            On September 26 Michael Blanding will discuss his new book The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps (Gotham Books). It tells the fascinating tale of E. Forbes Smiley III, one-time respectable map dealer arrested in 2005 after being caught excising plates from volumes in the Yale University Library. He afterward confessed to having stolen dozens of maps worth over $3 million altogether and ended up serving three years in prison.
            J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan, will give a talk on October 8 entitled, “Bibliophilia to Bibliomania.” On November 12, James Cornelius, Curator of the Abraham Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, will address the society.
            The society’s annual Holiday Cheer Party and Book Brag will take place on December 10, when attendees are invited to bring in items from their own collections and share the stories behind their acquisition.
            The No. 44 Society is a convivial club for book collectors and bibliophiles, and meets the second Wednesday of each month (unless otherwise noted) during the academic year from 3–5p.m. at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Room 346 of the Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL. All are welcome.
For more information, visit the website or contact Tad Boehmer, No. 44 Society Secretary, at

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