The total value of the books is more than $12 million.
While most booksellers at the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which runs from November 4 – 14 at Expo Centre Sharjah, have been witnessing more crowds than they anticipated, two of them have been witnessing a constant stream of visitors interested in rare and very expensive antique collections that carry price tags of several million dollars.
A pavilion shared by three booksellers who specialise in antiquarian books – UK-based Peter Harrington, Antiquariat Inlibris, and Antiquariat At Forum – boasts several rare and collectIble books on display. From Shakespeare to Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud to Agatha Christie, around 500 rare first-edition books are on display. But the crowning glory at the stall that might be smaller in size, but huge on value, is a collection of books from the research library of Jean Jacques Pierre Desmaisons (1807-73), described as Oriental scholar, diplomat, secret agent, and writer. It costs a cool $1.24 million, according to Yasser Raada Al Tamimi, manager, Inlibris.
Other books include a limited edition copy of The Book of a Thousand and One Nights, by Richard F Burton, published in 1897, going for $40,000; a rare 3-volume first edition of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital at $132,000; a first edition of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, for $165,000; a first edition On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin at $112,000; and a 1704 edition of Isaac Newton’s Opticks, at $112,000, among many others.
Antiques from the Middle East at the pavilion include a rare copy of a 1593 edition of Ibn Sina’s The Canon of Medicine, for $33,000; and a 19th-century Arabic manuscript of The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by Ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari, which was completed in 1206, among many others. The total value of the 900 books on display is more than $12 million, according to Al Tamimi.
Right across is the Le Prince Art Consultancy’s pavilion which showcases the most expensive collection of Qurans and atlases. A huge atlas by Nicolaes Visscher, circa 1685, with 226 pages of engraved maps, hand-coloured and finished in gold, is priced at a whopping $1.5 million. There are 60 items for sale here, including a pair of rare terrestrial and celestial globes, dated around 1632.
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