Nova Scotia RCMP displayed dozens of stolen artifacts for the media today in hopes it will help locate owners.

Only a few dozen of the 1300 treasures recovered were on display, while some have been damaged.

Some of the items include, the 1819 painting of province house, swords, the General Wolfe Letter, antique business signs and books.

They were all taken from John Mark Tillmann’s home in Fall River.

For the first time in years, Dalhousie archivist Michael Moosberger saw General James Wolfe’s letter that was stolen from the university archives.

“It is heart breaking,” says Moosberger.

The letter was written days before the siege of Louisburg, but a part of the paper has been torn.

“Looks like it has taken some of the writing away,” says Moosberger. “It’s upsetting to see it damaged.” 

The items were recovered when a Halifax Regional police officer was on exchange with the RCMP. He stopped Tillmann last July and spotted the 1758 letter of General James Wolfe.

Items, such as a particular painting are quite valuable.

“We’ve had some preliminary information on that,” says Cpl. Colin MacLean of the Nova Scotia RCMP. “It may be worth 30 to 40 thousand dollars.”

Each item has a story; an armour suit belongs to an antique dealer who had it out on consignment in the Annapolis Valley.

“We were very happy to get that back,” says Cpl. MacLean. “An elderly gentleman contacted us about a year ago about the theft.”

Another item police recovered is a hat; it comes from the Church Lads Brigade of Saint John’s, Newfoundland, whose armoury was burned down in 1992.

“Obviously they’ll be very interested to get that back if that’s where the item was stolen from,” says Cpl. MacLean.

There are also hundreds of books on display, first edition copies of Robinson Crusoe, and first edition copies of Darwin, Origin of the Species.

Cpl. MacLean says it may be months before the investigation is completed. He says there are 15,000 exhibits and that there will be an attempt to match owners with items.

Police say they would normally return the items quickly, but this is a unique case. “Because of the significance of some of these, and where they come from, it may be up to the courts.”

Nothing has been decided about the unclaimed items, but the RCMP say they will be posting photos over the next few weeks on their website in the hope of finding the rightful owners.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Rick Grant.