Rare books
Sharjah book Fair visitors browse through some rare collections at the Peter Harrington stall on Tuesday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: Leading London rare book dealer Peter Harrington presents another exceptional collection of 100 titles curated for collectors from the Arabian Gulf in its newest catalogue entitled Sharjah 2021.

Compiled for the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which runs at Expo Centre Sharjah from today until November 13, the selection includes several early foundational texts on subjects as varied as agriculture and horse breeding in the Arab world, alongside lavishly illustrated copies of iconic literary works such as the Rubaiyat and 1,001 Arabian Nights. The selection also includes rare and highly sought-after titles from the western world — many of which are exceptional association copies or sole copies that are rarely commercially traded.

Map book fair Sharjah
An early map of the region, published by London rare book dealer Peter Harrington, which is available at the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair. Image Credit: Supplied

A selection of scarce regional maps, monographs, sketches and written journals additionally provide a fascinating glimpse of life in the Gulf and the Levant in the early and mid-20th century, documenting the Arab nations’ interactions with the rest of the world.

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Visitors during an earlier edition of Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah. The current edition of the event runs until November 13. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

‘A fascinating window’

According to Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington: “Our new Sharjah catalogue includes a number of titles previously unseen in this region. From detailed records of landmark arbitration cases, to rare aviation maps issued for use by the RAF [Royal Air Force], medieval primers, albums, accounts of western spies operating in the Middle East and observational sketchbooks, the selection we’ve compiled for the Sharjah International Book Fair this year includes books and manuscripts that offer a fascinating window into a number of highly engrossing subjects, conversations, collaborations and conflicts that document life in the Gulf region from its earliest nation-building days.”

‘A wide range of titles’

“We have exhibited at SIBF three years in a row now. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with our clients from the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] who regularly buy from us both online as well through direct recommendations from our cataloguers and booksellers. We have sourced and delivered a wide range of titles — both, well-known and obscure — to private and institutional libraries in the region. It’s always a pleasure to be back in the UAE to take the pulse of the rare book world and understand what subjects are gaining interest with new and existing collectors,” said Ben Houston, sales director at Peter Harrington.

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“Early records of the region have always commanded curiosity — in written, photographic and illustrative form — but we have seen an increasing interest in recent months in cartography of the Arabian peninsula. We have brought with us several fascinating inclusions — including rare aeronautical maps of the region and the final edition of the Hunter map — a real milestone in map making in the Arab region,” added Ben.

‘A strong offering’

“Cornerstone socio-economic works from the western canon and modern classics also tend to be sought-after by highly discerning collectors based in this region and we have brought a strong offering with us this year — everything from first editions of Ptolemaues’ Cosmographia, Mao’s Little Red Book, pre-publication sheets of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Darwin’s Origin of Species find a place in this catalogue.”