Firms selling rare books eye Qatari market

  • Qatar Tribune
  • 5 January 2010
  • Ailyn Agonia

DOHA. Austria- and Holland-based collectors of rare books Antiquariat INLIBRIS and Antiquariaat FORUM, who have Yale and Harvard University among their clientele, are keen to share rare and valuable books that date from as far as 14th century.

These major collectors said they were keen to share their vast priceless collection with institutional libraries in Qatar and other private collectors here.

The two companies are among the featured guests in this year's edition of Doha International Book Fair now under way at the Doha Exhibitions Centre recently.

Talking to Qatar Tribune on Monday, Laurens R Hesselink of Antiquariaat FORUM said they have penetrated the market across Europe, US and parts of Asia by attending several fairs in those continents.

He said they are trying to explore the Middle East market this time as their collection also includes several manuscripts which specifically cater to the interest of the region.

Prior to the Doha Book Fair, they have graced such events in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

"We brought 150 of our finest collection here, which we know people in this part of the world will be interested in.

Our stall in this fair features a 14th century Islamic law manuscript, the Quran, manuscripts on falconry hunting of which the most expensive cost $250,000, a rare map of the Persian Gulf published in 1755 which we are selling for $25,000, original drawings of falcons published in 1830 and other books on horses and camels.

These are international materials and just a small part of our about 10,000 to 15,000 collection of such precious collection," Laurens remarked.

Antiquariat INLIBRIS have been dealing in rare books, manuscripts and autographs since 1883.

The company buys printed books from all fields from the 15th to the mid-19th centuries.

They are propping up their folio by taking part in major book auctions such as in Germany, Austria and Great Britain.

Established in 1970, Antiquariaat FORUM had been attending at least 12 fairs in a year in different continents to market its collection.

Their general stock of old and rare books are more on travel, natural history, art and architecture, children's books, bindings, coloured plate books, emblem books, gastronomy, medicine, music, science, Incunables, and illuminated manuscripts.

Hugo Wetscherek of Antiquariat INLIBRIS said that their target market is more of institutional libraries and private collectors.

He said both of their companies are regularly supplying rare books to prestigious universities such as Yale and Harvard and they hope to do the same in Qatar.

"There are not many institutions that carry the same collection of old and valuable reading materials as we do.

We have been to Qatar Foundation, for we hope to be invited by the universities as before leaving the country, and perhaps forge some kind of partnerships as we have with Yale and Harvard and other premier institutional libraries across the globe," said Hugo, whose company has been around since 1883.

Besides the Islamic manuscripts and falconry hunting books the duo's stall is also featuring a Dutch edition of 'One Thousand and One Nights' published in 1829.

"What we have here are good books and we would like to share it with Doha readers.

We not only sell these materials but we make sure our clients get the best," Laurens said.