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Officials at Widener Library are trying to determine if the same art thieves who have plagued a number of Eastern colleges are responsible for the Winslow Homer woodcut prints missing from 19th century magazines in its collection.
Terry Carlson, a librarian's assistant, said yesterday she has checked about half of the 200 questioned prints and found nearly half "nearly razored out," but she later changed her estimate to "10 or 15."
The Library received warning of the thefts in a letter sent by Bowdoin College officials after they found many valuable Homer prints clipped from old magazines, estimating losses at $3000, Carlson said.
Inventories at university libraries have revealed the loss of 156 prints, valued at $6000, at Cornell and a number of prints at Colby, Mount Holyoke and the University of Pittsburgh.
The Bowdoin letter mentioned that the thieves may have used a book, "The Wood Engravings of Winslow Homer," as a guide in selecting prints to clip.
Carlson said that the clipping did not look systematic because some volumes had been stripped clean while others were untouched. She said said it appears that someone was filling in a collection or picking up just certain prints.
The results of the inventory will be forwarded to the Harvard police.
Homer, considered one of the greatest 19th century American artists, did illustrations for Harper's Weekly and other periodicals from 1857 to 1875.
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