The defining collection of Muslim and West Asian historical weaponry

Holstein, Prosper. Contribution à l'étude des armes orientales.

Paris, Albert Lévy (by Protat frères, Macon), 1931.

2 vols. Folio (255 x 330 mm). XXIII, (1), 317, (3) pp. + 24 photographic plates. Blank leaf, (6), 290, (2) pp. + 84 photographic plates. Publisher's original grey wrappers titled in red.


In over 100 photographic plates: a monumental personal collection of historical weaponry from Arabia, Persia, Central Asia, Turkey, Arab Egypt, Morocco, India, the Malay Peninsula and the Pacific Islands. Prosper Holstein (1843-1926) was an avid collector of Muslim and Asian weaponry, and the photographs were largely if not entirely drawn from his own extensive collection before its dispersal after his death. A banker and silk worker by profession, Holstein never left the city of Lyon where he spent practically his entire life. He was, however, a close friend of Emile Guimet (1836-1918), who himself founded two eponymously named museums to house his large collection of Egyptian antiquities, as well as of the salon hostess and philanthropist, the Marquise Arconati Visconti, who donated her late husband's vast collection to the Louvre.

Holstein began his own collection of art and weaponry - a passion which would persist until his death - with the help and advice of those who understood the world of museums and auctions, and who recommended or reserved various items upon Holstein's request. Even more important to the formation of the collection shown here was a chance correspondence with Lord Kitchener (1850-1916): this marked a turning point in Holstein's life as a collector, since Kitchener, as Viscount and Commander-in-Chief of India, had a hand in all frontiers of the British Empire. He contributed hugely to helping Holstein identify and acquire historical weaponry across Arabia, West Asia, and the Indian subcontinent in particular. As a result, Holstein remains known by enthusiasts as the primary reference source on the topic, and these volumes remain the best record of his work.


From the collection of Jean-Charles Tauzin (1889-1957) and heirs.


In excellent condition, with only minor wear to wrappers.