Charles Merrill Mount, the Washington art historian accused of selling purloined historical documents that included an executive order signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and a 1904 letter from author Henry James, was indicted yesterday on 17 counts of receiving stolen property.

A federal grand jury here also indicted the self-described "normal Edwardian gentleman," who lives at a Capitol Hill rooming house, with four counts of mail fraud, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of illegal possession of a firearm.

In all, Mount faces up to 235 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.

Mount, 59, was arrested by FBI agents in Boston on Aug. 13 after he allegedly tried to sell rare and apparently stolen letters written by Lincoln and Winston Churchill and others to a bookstore there.

A week later, FBI agents searched two safety deposit boxes in Washington as well as Mount's rooming house and found another cache of rare documents.

Mount is accused of stealing the documents from the National Archives and the Library of Congress.

In all, more than 200 historical documents were seized. One safety deposit box alone contained documents estimated to be worth more than $100,000.

In an interview last month, Mount said, "All this is just hysteria . . . . The whole thing has been blown out of proportion." The rare letters, which garnered the relatively unknown historian and portrait artist national attention, "were always mine and had been in my possession for 25 years," he said.

According to the indictment, Mount stored some of the documents in a safety deposit box at Riggs National Bank, 1503 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, under the name Sidney Nussenbaum.

A second safety desposit box, under the name Edward Hearn, was also said to be used by Mount to store some of the documents. The indictment also listed Mount's home at 114 Fifth St. NE as another place that he allegedly stored the historical artifacts.

Four counts of mail fraud were also spelled out in the indictment, as well as two counts of possession of Secobarbital, a powerful sedative.