The first year of antiquarian book sales at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair has brought 17 exhibitors to the fair and produced a number of deals. Most notable is the planned purchase of twelve books on falconry and one on camels by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage for inclusion in the Abu Dhabi National Library. The total purchase price of the collection is likely to come close to $1 million (Dh3.75 million).
Among the volumes planned for purchase is Traite de fauconnerie by H. Schlegel and A.H. Verster de Wulverhorst, a 19th century collection of 16 full-page lithographed plates depicting falcons and hunting scenes. Dealer Laurens R. Hesselink of Antiquariaat Forum from Utrecht, Netherlands was asking $160,000 (Dh587,600) for the book. “It’s a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind book and justifies the price,” he said.
“Rarity too is important to price,” remarked Jeroem Schierenberg of Antiquariaat Dieter Sheierenberg of Amsterdam. Sheierenberg was asking $61,450 (Dh 225,675) for one of ten known copies of a falconry guide written in 1619 and dedicated to the greatest falconer of France in that period. It too is part of the planned library purchase.
Robert Frew of London said that overall the antiquarians were finding the Emirati curious about the books, but there was still a steep learning curve. “They’re still not sure why where here, so I spend a lot of time educating people. My favorite bit has been teaching the kids who’re coming around the booths. They ask a lot of questions, which I’ve enjoyed answering. They look really disappointed and don’t quite understand it when I tell them they can’t touch the books.”