Cost of this book at Sharjah fair: Dh2.2 million

  • Emirates 24/7
  • 24. November 2014
  • VM Sathish

Rare, ancient books at Sharjah International Book Fair priced in millions

What is the maximum price that any keen reader will pay for a published book at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2014 (SIBF)?

Dh100, Dh1,000, Dh10,000? Dh100,000; or more?

Well if Laurens R Hesselink, from Antiquaariat Forum, a rare books and manuscript dealer from the Netherlands is to be believed, the maximum price for a book can go up to, hold your breath, 450,000 euros - a whopping Dh2.2 million.

While it is rare to find a book priced more than Dh300 in most of the pavilions at the SIBF 2014, which has more than 1,000 publishers on display, the minimum price of a book displayed at Antiquaariat Forum is thousands of euros.

The ‘Sea Route to Makkah’ by Jacinto Friere de Andrade, based on the life of Dom John de Castro, the fourth Portuguese Viceroy of India, available for 8,500 euros – is one of the cheapest on his list of 75 rare books displayed at SIBF 2014.

The catalogue price of a photo book of ancient Egypt, containing 20 rare, large and stunning photographs of Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem, is 450,000 euros.

“This is the first edition of one of the most renowned photo books ever published, showing 20 large and stunning photographs of Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem, by one of England’s most celebrated photographers, Francis Firth (1828-1898) who made three expeditions to the Middle East between 1856 and 1860.

“The rare book displayed at the SIBF contains the monumental photographs of the pyramids of Egypt and other Egyptian antiques,” says Hesselink.

“The price of two rare atlases displayed here is Dh2 million. These are very rare and ancient atlases of the world,” he said .

The first edition of a ground breaking work on navigation, by Martin Cortes (The Arte of Navigation) is priced at 280,000 euros.

The ancient book is illustrated with astronomical woodcuts, depictions of navigational instruments and three maps.

The English translation, which appeared in 1561, became the standard work on navigation and the backbone of sailing instruction for many of the world’s naval powers until the 19th century, says the catalogue displayed at the SIBF.

“Most of the visitors to the pavilion make it a point to take one or two pictures in front of these historical documents,’ he says.

Antiquariat Inlibris from Vienna and Antiquaariat Forum are jointly offering the rare books for sale in Sharjah.