Article by Peter Dujardin
January 7th, 2011
NORFOLK — A federal judge on Friday ordered a Williamsburg artifact collector not to sell a valuable Civil War-era sword that Brown University contends was stolen from its collections more than 30 years ago.
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar issued the temporary restraining order following a motion from Brown’s attorneys.
The order blocks the collector, Donald R. Tharpe, and his wife, Toni M. Tharpe, from selling or otherwise disposing of the sword until a full hearing can be held Wednesday to decide where the sword should be stored until the ownership dispute is resolved.
The sword and scabbard — made by Tiffany & Co. of New York — were presented in May 1863 to Col. Rush C. Hawkins, commander of a highly decorated battle unit, the 9th New York Volunteers. It was a gift from 50 “notable citizens” of New York.