16th-century Hebrew Bible goes missing in Monsey

Posted on 31 October 2014 by moshe emes

lohud

 

 

Jonathan Bandler, jbandler@lohud.com

Thou shalt not forget to require a signature.

That’s the lesson for Gene Albert, a Virginia religious artifacts dealer who sold a rare, 16th-century, eight-volume Hebrew Bible for $7,000 on eBay to a Monsey man who insists he never received it.

16CentBiblePostal tracking shows the package was delivered Oct. 10, two days after Albert sent it from Lynchburg to Jacob Gestetner.

“Either he has it or it was stolen from his mailbox,” Albert said. “Either way it’s gone and I’m out the money.”

The compact set of the second Estienne Hebrew Bible dates to the 1540s and was from the collection of Andrew Fletcher, a 17th-century Scottish politician renowned for his private library.

Oct. 10 was a Friday, the second day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Gestetner, who is Orthodox, sent Albert a message on eBay after Sabbath on Oct. 11, indicating that he had seen the tracking report but that he never got the package.

Albert responded the next morning to urge Gestetner to check with his mail carrier – and said it took another week for Gestetner to get back to him that he still hadn’t received it.

“So much time went by, I figured he had found it,” Albert said. “Why did he wait so long?”

An official at the post office in Monsey said the package had been scanned in as delivered and that the mail carrier indicated it was left outside Gestetner’s home.

Reached by phone, Gestetner declined to comment, saying the purchase was a private matter.

Albert said he was paid but must return the money under terms of the eBay agreement.

He filed a claim with the U.S. Postal Service and alerted the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America so that its members would watch out if anyone tried to sell the Bible. He said he also contacted several synagogues in the Monsey area in case it turns up at any of them.

He said he has sold more than $3 million worth of religious artifacts over the past decade and never had a similar problem. Nothing about his packages suggests rare or valuable contents, he said, and he doesn’t take out extra insurance because that could signal the package is worth stealing.

He usually checks off the Signature Required box, he said, but forgot when mailing the package to Gestetner.

In 2006, Albert established the Christian Heritage Museum on his Hagerstown, Maryland property so that he could publicly display his collection of 20,000 bibles, religious books and Christian artifacts. The museum has since closed and Albert said he sold much of his collection to Steven Green, president of Hobby Lobby, the Christian-based arts and crafts chain store who is battling the federal government over providing birth control coverage for its employees. Green is planning a multi-million dollar Bible museum in Washington, DC.

Twitter: @jonbandler

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here
November 2018
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930