400 stolen historical documents, which were sold on eBay, are to be bought back by the company. The items are alleged to have been taken from the New York state archive by an archives management specialist; they include a 1865 timetable from Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train. eBay have agreed to purchase items back from buyers for the state; the cost is estimated at around $68,000. The buyers, who are believed not to have known that the documents they purchased were stolen, will not face legal action.
The State Attorney General discovered 400 items stolen from archives and sold on eBay going back to 2001. Documents relating to the American Revolutionary, Civil and Mexican Wars, the Roosevelts, Black and Jewish Americans and Davy Crockett were sold; the illegal sales came to light when a history-loving lawyer spotted a letter written by Vice President John Calhoun on eBay, and alerted authorities.
eBay are not liable for the sale of the items concerned: they are, of course, ‘only a venue’. And though it’s absolutely right that they would be funding this buy-back – otherwise the state would be footing the bill – I can’t help thinking that New York state won’t be the last people to want them to make things right.