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Old Loans

What constitutes an “old loan” in the museum vernacular?  An object is designated as such when the museum lacks adequate documentation of owning the object.  An object that has clear ownership through donation and has been accepted into the museum’s collection is termed to be “accessioned.”  In the case of “old loans” it was often decided that once an object had languished for ten years or more without well documented provenance or owner reclamation, it could be accessioned into the collection, albeit with dubious legality.

However, all that changed back in 2009 when the State of Vermont passed No. 127, An Act Relating to Property Loaned to Museums.”  This act is the culmination of many years of hard work by dedicated museum personnel who wanted some concrete definitions to help determine the fate of unresolved loans, without fear of legal conflict.

Those objects designated “old loans” must be assessed for their validity to the museum’s stated mission.  Once they have been determined relevant (or not), the former lender (or heirs of the lender), must be contacted for verification documentation and offered the choice to reclaim the loaned object or donate it unrestricted to the museum.  This sounds easier than in actuality since most old loan owners have “moved on” or passed away, i.e. their whereabouts and their heirs’ whereabouts mostly unknown.  Even if the heirs can be located, they must present proof of ownership before making claim to such objects.  An old museum receipt issued to the lender or a copy of a bequest to the heir must be presented.
It is the museum’s responsibility to provide written notice to the last known owner’s address, followed by publishing once a month for three consecutive months, a public notice in the principal newspaper of the county of the last known owner’s address, or the museum’s county if the owner's address is unknown.

A more detailed definition of the law can be accessed and printed here.

In the meantime, if you know of any old loans from your family or friends and have a receipt to prove it, we will honor such claims to keep in compliance with Act 127.

Do you recognize any of these loans?!
L217 L205
L160-1 L207-4
 L227-1  L156-1

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Act Relating to Property Loaned to Museums

For more information on Sammy Leslie's visit, click here.
An Amazing “Old Loan” Story

Back in October of this year, I was searching for documentation of an alleged bequest of a loan turned donation.  My search took me from the Georgetown University archives to the National Archives of Ireland.  But before I managed to solicit a copy of the will, I received an unexpected email from the lender’s granddaughter in County Monaghan, Ireland!  She had been trying to locate artifacts belonging to her grandmother…the same artifacts that I was trying to document as a bequest.  After several correspondence, Sammy Leslie, the granddaughter of Marjorie Ide Leslie, paid a visit to St. Johnsbury, Vermont and stayed in her grandmother’s home “Idlewood” where I just happened to live!  Marjorie Ide was the youngest of Henry Clay Ide’s* three daughters and sister to Annie Ide, who inherited the birthday of Robert Louis Stevenson in his memorable transference letter.

Marjorie met and married the famous Irish Baronet and writer, Shane Leslie, and ultimately moved with him to Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, north of Dublin.  Sammy Leslie has taken on the keep of Castle Leslie, while promoting its heritage and the people of the region.

We had a delightful time showing her the “old loan” artifacts in question, while giving her a tour of her grandmother’s childhood home, the family cemetery plot and facilitating her meeting her extended Ide relatives.

Though the fate of the Ide loan/bequest is still undetermined, Ms. Leslie is doing her best to help us acquire the necessary documentation and plans a return visit next spring.
By Mary Beth Prondzinski, Director of Collections

*Vermont lawyer and judicial diplomat to Samoa, Spain and the

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