A portable antique desk once used by the Victorian authoress George Eliot was stolen in a theft carried out during the Nuneaton Remembrance Day Parade.
The papier mache writing desk, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and measuring 26 X 31cm (10 X 12”), was taken – together with its display cabinet – from Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery, Warwickshire, on Sunday 11th November. A Remembrance Day service was being held just a few yards away, during which time thousands of people would have been in the area, yet the theft was not discovered until the following day by museum staff.
Ian Lloyd, the arts and leisure councillor for the Nuneaton area, described the theft as a low blow, saying the authoress played a significant part in local history, with people visiting from across the world to discover more about the writer’s life. He said:
“It is shocking that someone would come into the museum and steal such a priceless piece of history.
“[It] was put on display to educate and inspire generations of people.”
Born Mary Ann Evans, Eliot (1818 – 1880) was the author of such celebrated works as Silas Marner and Middlemarch. The desk, which had been in the same position in a ground floor gallery since 1917, is believed to have been used by her when she lived at nearby Griff House.
The museum believes the desk may have been stolen to order, although no doubt the antique trade will still be on alert. In Lancashire, the antique desks sold by good antique dealers are always honestly acquired.
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