DOHA. A 520-year-old complete Roman edition of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia is up for sale for QR1.2 million at the 21st Doha International Book Fair that opened on Wednesday.
The book, with the author's name in gilt lettering, has 27 double-page engraved maps.
It is among the rarest and the most expensive items on display at the ongoing fair at the Doha Exhibitions Center that concludes on December 5. Antiquariaat Forum, a Holland-based dealer in antiquarian books, prints, maps and manuscripts, and Antiquariat Inlibris, an Viennese rare books concern, have brought the rare tome to Qatar.
This is their second appearance in the Qatar's annual book event.
Talking to Qatar Tribune on Thursday, Forum's proprietor Laurens R Hesselink said they had brought mainly new and exciting rare finds mainly related to falconry, Arabian horses and Islamic manuscripts to the Doha book fair.
He said that he had once more teamed up with industry colleague, Hugo Wetscherek of Austria-based Antiquariat Inlibris, to further explore the Qatari market and create awareness therein about their unique collection.
Besides Ptolemy's Geographia, the duo's booth boasts of a number of important historic works.
One of them is Album de Redoute, a rare compilation of Pierre-Joseph Redoute's works. Redoute was a French painter and botanist and the official court artist of Marie Antoinette. The Album, complete with its title-page, dedication and 24 engravings composed of plates from 'Les Roses', 'Les Liliacees' and 'Jardin de la Malmaison', is priced QR900,000.
The complete set of Giacomo Gastaldi's first modern maps of Arabia is also available for QR 910,000. The three-part map of the East with full coverage of Arabia and Persia is regarded as the most sought-after map of the region. It served as a model for all further mapping of the Peninsula till the 19th century and details the coastline of the Arabian Gulf and the coastal towns of Qatar are shown and named for the first time here.
The three volumes of most famous books on Arabic arts published in instalments from 1869 to 1877 is another important collection on display at the fair and for sale at QR325,000.
Hesselink expects to see a good turnout and make new contacts with important institutions in Qatar again this year.
"We did well in last year's edition of this fair.
We established contact with several important institutions and collectors in Qatar who are into our kind of book collection.
We want to be popular in the Middle East market as we do in other parts of the world," he added.