Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2021 Issue

Peter Harrington Exhibits at the Sharjah International Book Fair


Books for the Sharjah Fair.

Peter Harrington issued a catalogue for the recent Sharjah International Book Fair. The Sharjah fair was unusual in that it took place in Sharjah, a real place, rather than in the virtual world somewhere in the ether. Sharjah is located in the United Arab Emirates, and it should be no surprise that there are people collecting at the highest level around the Persian Gulf. What we find from this catalogue is they collect both material of local origin and interest, and from the western world. The catalogue is divided into two sections appealing to those two interests: Part 1: The Arabic & Islamic World, and Part 2: The Western Canon. What is offered is all higher end items, some appropriate for serious though normal collectors, a few requiring you own a few oil wells. Whichever end of serious collecting you are on, or where you live, you will find many interesting items in this collection. These are a few samples.


Who would be better equipped to provide a guidebook to Arabia than T. E. Lawrence? He wasn't known as Lawrence of Arabia for nothing. Lawrence was a British archaeologist in Arabia when a revolt began in 1916 by the Arabians to overthrow the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were already preoccupied with fighting in World War I. The British commandeered him to act as a spy, and eventually, to assist the locals in their rebellion as that would draw Ottoman resources away from supporting their enemies in the Great War. Lawrence would prove to be most adept in his role of planning attacks, sufficiently so to become the subject of a successful movie in the 1960s. In 1917, he was instrumental in preparing a second edition of the Handbook of Hejaz, an update of a book published a year earlier by D. G. Hogarth. The Hejaz is a region in what is today Saudi Arabia. This book covers geography, routes, tribal and political organizations in the area, important information for those seeking to overthrow Ottoman rule. It would not have been printed in many copies and is quite rare today. Item 20. Priced at £32,500 (British pounds, or approximately $43,455 U. S. dollars).


Here is another guide, except this one is a map and it covers the whole of the Ottoman Empire. Based on annotations, it was used at the same time as Lawrence's guide, during the First World War, though it was printed two decades earlier in 1893. It was also used by the other side, it having been created for the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. Item 27 is The Route to Mecca, Ottoman Empire Distance-Time-Route Map. The main map covers most of the empire, from Bosnia and Crimea in the north to Egypt in the south. Insets cover the Gulf region, including the aforementioned Hejaz, while another reaches the southwestern extremity of the empire in northern Africa, Ottoman Libya. This map not only shows routes and distances between all major points in the empire, but also is a rare map in that it provides travel time estimates. Among the roads displayed were some of the major hajj routes. £3,500 (US $4,679).


Next is an account of a remarkable journey: Ludouici Patritii Romani Nouum itinerarium Aethiopiae, Aegipti, utriusque Arabiae, Persidis, Siriae, ac Indiae, intra et extra Gangem. This is the first Latin edition of 1511 (a year after the first edition, in Italian) by Ludovico di Varthema. Described as “one of the most remarkable travel books of the Renaissance,” I can only say that this is an understatement. Varthema was an Italian who left his home in 1502 for an amazing adventure. He traveled around the Near East, eventually joining up with mamluk guards as a Muslim (though he was actually Christian). That enabled him to travel to the holy Muslim city of Mecca, from which non-Muslims are prohibited entrance. As such, he was likely the first westerner to visit Mecca. He then managed to escape, and through many daring and dangerous travels, made his way through Persia, India, and beyond, finally returning home in 1508. While there is little outside confirmation of his account, his descriptions of places such as Mecca proved to be accurate by later travelers, confirming the authenticity of his story. Item 39. £150,000 (US $200,466).


A geography book that was still being used almost 15 centuries after it was written must have been a very good one. Considering how limited the information concerning world geography was in the second century, Ptolemy, a native of Alexandria, was remarkably accurate. His work was long lost to the Western world, but was regularly consulted in the Islamic one until around 1400 when rediscovered in the West. With the advent of printing, his Cosmographia became the primary tool for understanding the world. Ptolemy provided tools for map-making and latitudes and longitudes as best he could determine for various locations. He breaks the world into the three continents he knew, Europe, Africa and Asia, while fully understanding that he was only familiar with a small part of what existed. Item 28 is the first printed edition of Cosmographia, published in Vicenza in 1475. This first edition did not contain any maps. Those began to be added starting with the 1477 edition which used Ptolemy's guides to create his maps. £450,000 (US $602,322).


The high values on some of these books is not surprising considering their place in history, but this one may come as a surprise. There is probably no other comparably recent book that has seen its value skyrocket so much in recent years as this one. It's magic. Item 73 is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J. K. Rowling, published in 1997. It has already reached six figures. This is a first edition, first printing, the preferred case-bound issue. Only 500 copies of the first printing were made and 300 were sent to libraries where little fingers made copies barely collectible. This one is in near-fine condition. Item 73. £110,000 (US $147,253).


Peter Harrington may be reached at 020 7591 0220 (USA 011 44 20 7591 0220) or mail@peterharrington.co.uk. Their website is www.peterharrington.co.uk.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Sotheby's<br>The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection<br>26 May - 12 June</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "Cool Hand Luke" | Paul Newman Academy Award® Nomination Plaque. USD$2500 - $3500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "Hud" | Bound presentation script incorporating photographic stills. USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "The Long, Hot Summer" | Movie Poster. USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> Joseph Heller | "Catch-22," inscribed to Woodward & Newman by author. USD$500 - $800
    <b><center>Sotheby's<br>The Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman Collection<br>26 May - 12 June</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> George H. W. Bush | Typed Letter Signed, Issuing a "Pardon" to Paul Newman. USD$1500 - $2000
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> William Jefferson Clinton | Inscribed Color Photograph. USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> Ken Kesey | Typed letter to “Paulnewman,” asking for further compensation for "Sometimes a Great Notion". USD$1000 - $1500
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 26 – Jun. 12:</b> "They Might Be Giants" | Costume sketches by Edith Head. USD$1000 - $2000
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Focus On Women:<br>At Auction June 1, 2023</b>
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Sojourner Truth, <i>Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave,</i> first edition, Boston, 1850. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Pride and Prejudice,</i> London, 1817. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Cindy Sherman, <i>Secretary,</i> gelatin silver print, 1978; printed 1993. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Fanny Stevenson, Archive of Photographs & Letters, 1866-1904. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann June 1:</b> Charlotte Perkins Gilman, <i>The Forerunner,</i> Volumes I-VII; Family Association Set; Four Volumes Signed or Inscribed by the Author, New York, 1909-16. $3,000 to $5,000.
  • <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Rare Book & Collectors’ Sale<br>May 30th and 31st, 2023</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> The West Indies, C. 1792, by Sir William Young. Colonial Watercolours, etc. A highly important group of original watercolours now on the market for the first time in approx. 230 years. €10,000 to €15,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Gould (John). <i>The Birds of Great Britain,</i> 5 vols. lg. atlas folio, Lond. (Taylor & Francis) 1873. First Edition, with 363 hand-coloured plates. €9,000 to €15,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> thick 4to, L. (John Lane, The Bodley Head) 1936, Signed Limited Edition No. 20 (100) Copies. €8,000 to €12,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Rare Book & Collectors’ Sale<br>May 30th and 31st, 2023</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur) illus. <i>The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm,</i> Lg. 4to Lond. (Constable & Co.) 1909. Lim. Edition No. 128 of 750 Copies, Signed by Author. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Arctic Travel: Hearne (Samuel). <i>A Journey from Prince of Wales Fort in Hudson's Bay…</i> Thick 8vo Dublin, 1796. First Dublin Edition. €1,250 to €1,750.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Hand-Coloured Plates: Maw (George). <i>A Monograph of The Genus Crocus,</i> Lg. 4to Lond. (Culau & Co.) 1886. First Edn. €1,200 to €1,500.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Rare Book & Collectors’ Sale<br>May 30th and 31st, 2023</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Holinshed (Raphael) & Stanyhurst (R.) <i>The Historie of Ireland from the First Inhabitation thereof, unto the Yeare 1509…</i> Folio, London, 1577, First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Fine Hand-Coloured Plates: [Dalvimart (Octavien.)] <i>The Costume of Turkey, ... with Descriptions in English and French,</i> Folio Lond. (for Wm. Miller by Wm. Bulmer) 1804. First Edn. €750 to €1,250.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Astronomy: Nasmyth (James) & Carpenter (James). <i>The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite.</i> Lg. 4to Lond. 1874. First Edn. €700 to €1,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Rare Book & Collectors’ Sale<br>May 30th and 31st, 2023</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Binding: Tennyson - <i>The Works of Lord Tennyson Poet Laureate,</i> 8vo Lond. (Macmillan & Co.) 1900. €700 to €1,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Manuscript: Green (E.) <i>Chronology and Geography by E. Green,</i> Folio manuscript, no date but c. 1800. €400 to €600.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, May 30 & 31:</b> Alexander (James Edward). <i>Sketches in Portugal,</i> During The Civil War of 1834. 8vo Lond. (J. Cochrane) 1835. First Edition. €300 to €400.

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