Rare volume worth QR1.2m at book fair

  • The Peninsula
  • 26 November 2010
  • Raynald C. Rivera

DOHA. Rare books every bibliophile would like to add to his bookshelf are some of the interesting volumes among the more than 36,000 titles on display at the 21st Doha International Book Fair at the Doha Exhibition Centre.

Worth a staggering QR1.2m, Geographia by Claudius Ptolemaeus, known in English as Ptolemy, is the most expensive book for sale at the 10-day fair. Printed in Rome in 1490, the atlas is considered one of the most important early works by the world-famous Roman mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer. It is available at the stand of Antiquariat Inlibris and Antiquariaat Forum, world-famous dealers in rare and antiquarian books, prints, maps, manuscripts and drawings.

The atlas is based on Ptolemy's description of the world and was first printed in 1475. Ptolemy's manuscript atlas was regarded as the standard work in the field of geography even before it was printed. It became immensely influential and even Columbus found inspiration in Ptolemy's exaggerated size of Asia for his own fateful journey to the west.

Another prized collector's item is the 1561 edition of a complete set of all three parts of a famous map of the East by Giacomo Gastaldi. Priced at QR910,000, the map includes details such as the coastline of the Arabian and the Qatari peninsula.

"Geographia by Ptolemy and Gastaldi's maps are two of the most interesting in our collection since they show how people during two different times saw the world," said Laurens R Hesselink of Netherlands-based Antiquariaat Forum.

Hesselink also showed three rare volumes on Islamic art worth QR325,000 and books on horses and falconry, which might be of interest to Arabs. [...]