The Map Thief

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A world map dated from the mid 1800s showing Western and Eastern Hemispheres with hand colouring

Maps are both beautiful works of art and practical tools to navigate the world. They’re also highly collectible, and the map trade can be a cutthroat business. Once considered a respectable antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley spent years doubling as a map thief—until he was finally arrested slipping maps out of books in the Yale University library. In his book The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps, Michael Blanding tells the history of this fascinating high-stakes criminal and the industry that consumed him.