Rare 16th-century Hebrew Bible Strangely Goes Missing

The rare Hebrew Bible was from the collection of Andrew Fletcher, a 17th-century Scottish politician renowned for his private library. (Photo: Jonathan Bandler, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News)
The rare Hebrew Bible was from the collection of Andrew Fletcher, a 17th-century Scottish politician renowned for his private library.
(Photo: Jonathan Bandler, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News)

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, N.Y., man who insists he never received it.

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

“Either he has it or it was stolen from his mailbox,” Albert said.

“Either way its 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.

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SOURCE: The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News – Jonathan Bandler

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