We are delighted to announce the launch of our new Islamic department, headed by specialist Roxana Kashani.

Roxana joins Shapero after ten years in the auction world, and she looks forward to broadening our collections of books from the Arabic, Ottoman, Persian and Indian worlds.  Her main area of expertise is manuscripts from the Near East, ranging from early Andalusian Quran leaves of the 10th century to Qajar Persian illuminated codices of the 19th century. As well as manuscripts, Roxana has a keen interest in early printing in the Islamic world, including typeset presses in the West and provincial and early lithography in the Middle East and India.

Roxana is able to assist with valuations and is on hand to offer guidance to customers interested in this somewhat complex collecting area. She would also be delighted to advise customers about the development and growth of their private libraries and collections focused on the Islamic World.

By way of introduction, we arranged a short (digital) interview with Roxana:

How did you find your way into rare books?

After an internship in the prints and drawings archive of a museum, I realised my dreams of curatorship were misplaced and the reality of archives disappointing. My passion was antiquarian books, so I did another internship for the ABA (as a porter at Chelsea Book Fair) and knew that was where I wanted to be; the contacts I made at that fair landed me my first job as a junior cataloguer in the book department of a London auction house.

Why Islamic books?

The answer is very simple – I could read them! My Iranian heritage also connected me to this area, so it felt like a very natural progression.

Have you travelled much in the region?

I have travelled the length and breadth of Iran and have been to Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, having lived in Dubai for a few years. I have also travelled through Morocco and Turkey, but there is still much to explore!

What is the most amazing book you've ever encountered?

That is a very difficult question to answer! Although I’ve had the privilege of handling some breath-taking manuscripts around the world, collections at the Aga Khan and Chester Beatty to name a few, the Book of Kells is engrained in my mind as one of the most incredible books I have ever seen. 

Any advice for budding young collectors?

It can take decades to refine a collection, try to keep an open mind when forming one. You never know in which direction it might take you further down the line!   

If you had to choose one book currently on the shelves at Shapero to add to your own collection, what would that be?

Bruin’s trans-Asian expedition Reizen over Moskovië door Persië en Indië (Amsterdam, 1714 - 93888). It’s such a beautiful copy and I love the plates of Persia.

Last but not least, what does an Islamic book specialist read – what is your desert island book choice? 

When I’m not reading articles on Islamic Art or related exhibition catalogues, I’m probably reading modern fiction. I’ve just started Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – so far so good, but I’m a hopeless romantic at heart so my desert island book would have to be Wuthering Heights: ‘He’s more myself than I am’, gets me every time.