DOHA: Rare book collectors Antiquariat Inlibris and Antiquariaat Forum have brought the oldest book and the most expensive tome at the 24th Doha International Book Fair that opened yesterday at the Doha International Exhibition Centre.
The most expensive book at the fair is the first edition of John James Audobon's extraordinarily coloured plates of quadrupeds priced at € 950,000 (QR4.7m).
"It is a 150-plate book of all four legged animals of North America," Laurens R Hesselink of Antiquariaat Forum told The Peninsula yesterday.
In March 2000, Sheikh Saud Al Thani bought "Birds of America" by the same author that cost $11.5m at a Christie's auction.
Printed in 1483, the oldest book is Gheraert Leeu's first illustrated edition in any language of one of the oldest and most popular texts in early European literature.
The 500-year-old book in English, which costs € 250,000, is "The Seven Sages of Rome." It contains educational stories within a "frame story" which follows the Arabian Nights' unique format.
Around 70 very rare books on travel, natural history, numismatics, atlases, manuscripts books on Arabian horses and the Arab region can be found at the Inlibris stand.
"We have the first Arabic edition of Arabian Nights. This is extremely rare with only three copies in the world all of which are in American libraries. There is none of this in the Arab region," said Hesselink.
Other notable items in the collection are a manuscript of an Islamic atlas made for the Ottoman court in third quarter of the 18th Century, the first modern map of Arabia by Italian cartographer and traveller Giacomo Gastaldi which costs € 150,000 and the first recorded visit of a Westerner in Makkah by Lodovico de Varthema, priced at € 450,000.