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Monday, April 15, 2024

Book Returned To California Library Nearly a Century Late

Nearly a century after it was due, a US history book was delivered back to a library in California. Earlier this month, the 1881 book A History of the United States by Benson Lossing was delivered back to the St. Helena Public Library in Napa Valley.

On February 21, 1927, it was supposed to be returned. Jim Perry, the owner of the book, potentially owing roughly $1,756 (£1,417) at the time the book was borrowed because late fees were a nickel (five cents) per day. Fortunately for him, the library stopped charging late fees in 2019. The copy was discovered by Perry in a box of books that belonged to his late wife Sandra Learned Perry, the St Helena Star reports.

He informed the newspaper that he was “very positive” that the book’s original borrower was her grandfather John McCormick, a member of one of the island’s oldest pioneer families and a descendent of the first European settlers. The St Helena Star reported that Perry discovered the copy in a box of books that belonged to his late wife, Sandra Learned Perry. He stated to the press that he was “very positive” that her grandfather John McCormick, a member of one of St. Helena’s oldest pioneer families, was the initial borrower of the book. The first time Perry returned A History of the United States to the library’s front desk, he did not leave his name behind. However, after the library made an inquiry for more details regarding the book’s past, Perry was located.

The book, according to library officials, may have been one of the 540 volumes that were initially offered by the Free Public Library, which was St Helena Public Library’s forerunner. At the entrance to the library, the book is currently housed in a glass display case. A book owned by Cambridge’s Sidney Sussex College currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most overdue and unreturned library books. The German-language history book was taken out of the library in 1667 or 1668 by Colonel Robert Walpole, the father of Sir Robert Walpole, who is recognized as the first prime minister of Great Britain.

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It was finally returned to Sidney Sussex on January 16, 1956, at least 287 years after it was first discovered by Professor John Plumb when he was writing a history of Sir Horace Walpole.

Other late-returned works include the first volume of WFP Napier’s four-volume History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France, which was stolen from a US library during the American Civil War and was finally returned in 2009, over 145 years after it was taken. More than 120 years after it was initially borrowed, a copy of The Microscope and Its Revelations that was taken out of the Hereford Cathedral School library by a student named Arthur Boycott was returned in 2016.

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