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Rare Copernicus Volume Stolen

February 5, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ A rare 1543 first edition by astronomer Nicholas Copernicus has been stolen from a library in St. Petersburg, and authorities have appealed to Interpol to help in its return.

The book, one of 107 copies in the world, was among 23 rare books from the 16th and 17th centuries stolen from the library of the Academy of Sciences, the city’s Interior department said Friday, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The sale of a copy of Copernicus’ ``On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres″ at an auction in the United States prompted librarians in St. Petersburg to look for their copy, and discovered it and the other books were missing.

Two years ago, copies of the same Copernicus volume, valued at $400,000, were stolen from libraries in Poland and Ukraine.

In the book, printed in Germany in 1543, the Polish astronomer lays out the first ever theory putting the sun at the center of the solar system, rather than Earth as had been previously believed.

The city Interior department has appealed to Interpol for assistance in the search for the missing books, ITAR-Tass said.

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