Rare anatomy book on display for Dh4 million at SIBF

  • Khaleej Times
  • 8 November 2017
  • Sherouk Zakaria

The book, considered the seminal work on the birth of modern anatomy, is a masterpiece in itself

Fancy collecting rare books and manuscripts? You will need some heavy pockets to buy the first book in modern anatomy on display at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

"De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem," published in 1543, is considered the birth of modern anatomy, raising its worth to ?950,000 (about Dh4 million).

Through it, Andreas Vesalius, the Flemish anatomist, physician and author, revolutionised the science of anatomy and how it was taught. The Latin book features over 200 woodcut illustrations including three full-page skeletons, 14 pages of muscles and diagrams of veins, nerves, skulls, brains and bones in full contemporary hand colour.

Available at 'Inlibris in association with Antiquariaat Forum' stall, the 710-page book is preserved in its original binding as retrieved from the library of its first owner German physician Caspar Neefee whose written annotations can be seen throughout.

Laurens Hesselink from Antiquariaat Forum, specialised in rare books and manuscripts, told Khaleej Times that the book is a surviving one of 250 copies. "The whole anatomy is shown in this book for the first time, which makes it that expensive," said Hesselink. Original owner Neefe consulted the book extensively when he was the surgeon of Duke Albert I of Saxony.

The stand also features numerous other pricey items on display. One of them is the 18th century Godolphin Arabian painting by Daniel Quigley worth €450,000 (Dh1.92 million).

"It is one of four paintings of the Godolphin horse, the first Arabian horse that entered the UK and from which all Arabian horses in the UK descend from," said Hesselink. "The horse pictured never raced and was used for breeding until he died in 1753 at the age of 32."

The painting features the names of all horses that descended from the Godolphin horse.

Visitors will also be able to find three earliest maps of Arabia, dating back to 1478, 1482 and 1490 respectively. One of the pictures depicted the British attack on Ras Al Khaimah, on sale for €9,500 (Dh40,450).

Rare books revealing the early history and political situation of the Arabian Gulf can also be found for prices ranging from €35,000 (Dh149,000) to €250,000 (Dh1.06 million).

The book 'A Mine of Information on the Development of Modern Gulf' on display for sale at €250,000 reports the administration of political residency in the gulf for 1875-1876.

A copy of the Bible in Arabic printed in 1591 in Rome on the Vatican Press and the first English translation of Holy Quran dating back to 1649 are also featured at the stall.