Iran Zamin – Highlights From The Catalogue

Highlights from our recently published catalogue Iran Zamin, as picked by the head of our new Islamic department, Roxana Kashani.

Spring is in the air and with the Iranian New Year upon us, we enter a new century of the Iranian calendar with the year 1400. To celebrate this season of new beginnings we are delighted to launch the inaugural catalogue of our Islamic department: Iran Zamin. Literally translating to ‘the land of Persia’, this catalogue features twenty-five printed books and manuscripts spanning almost 800 years of history and showcases important Persian literature as well historical as voyages and travels through the region.

One of the earliest manuscripts featured is a bifolium from a fourteenth-century Shahnameh. Considered one of the founding literary texts of the Farsi language and one of the most celebrated texts in Persian history, this epic poem by Abdul Qasim Ferdowsi is fundamentally void of any Arab influence and consequently considered a pillar of Iranian social and artistic culture. The absence of miniature illumination in the present manuscript is very uncommon, a rare curiosity, and comparable examples are yet to be identified.

Following similar pre-Islamic themes akin to the Shahnameh, our next highlight is a rare illustrated manuscript copy of Assar Tabrizi’s Mir’o Mushtari. This is a story of the spiritual and plutonic love shared by the two male protagonists ‘Mir’ (meaning the sun) and ‘Mushtari’ (meaning Jupiter). The themes relayed in this romance make it a rare survival; the present example was copied in Shiraz by the scribe Pir Hussayn al-Katib Shirazi in the year 908 AH (1503 AD).

Illustrating the historic landmarks of Persia, we turn to the trans-Asian expedition of Cornelius de Bruin Reizen over Moskovië door Persië en Indië: verrykt met driehondert kunstplaten. This work, printed in Amsterdam in 1714, features superb illustrations of the region including some exceptional panoramas of Ispahan and Persepolis and as well as finely engraved costume plates of Persians.

Our next feature is a rare collection of devotional poetry in praise of the Prophet Muhammad and the ‘pure ones’. With strong shi’ite muslim influences, this collection of prophetic poetry is called ‘Arba’un’ literature, because it features forty separate anecdotes in poetic form. The present example is richly illuminated and copied in a striking and unapologetic naskh script by Abdullah Ahmed al-Qazvini in the year 1186 AH (1772 AD).

One of the most celebrated poets in Iran is Sheikh Sa’adi of Shiraz. Our next highlight is a scarce bi-lingual publication of Sa’adi’s Pand-namah, translated into English by Francis Gladwin and printed in English and Farsi in Calcutta by the Press of Stuart and Cooper in 1788.

One of the most famous voyages through Persia was by Sir John Chardin, featuring numerous engravings and an account of his journey to the region, important for the narrative describing life in late Safavid Persia. This 1811 printing of Voyages du Chevalier Chardin, en Perse features a hand-coloured map of the region and over 85 engraved plates, present here in a highly attractive and uncut state.

One of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts featured in this catalogue is a fine Qajar copy of Nizami’s epic Leila wa Majnun retold by Maktabi Shirazi. This tragic romance is often called the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of the East and recounts a similarly devastating story of unrequited love between the protagonists Leila and Majnun. This immaculate manuscript copy was inscribed by Karam’ali in 1254 AH (1838 AD) and features 26 exquisite Qajar-style miniature paintings in the text.

The final entry in the catalogue brings us to modern-day Iran with a panel of calligraphy from a living artist. Sajad Haghjuoy (b. 1986) is one of a small group of artists in Iran practicing the Safavid style of calligraphy and manuscript illumination, whose quality artwork is gaining international recognition, and making them modern masters of traditional arts in Iran.

Back to the Cradle: Highlights from our Africa Travel Catalogue

This is the first catalogue on Africa we have produced since 2005 and we hope you find it worth the wait. Discover first editions and rare books, including copies in fine bindings, relating to Western exploration and adventuring in Africa over 350 years. We have tried to make it as varied as possible with wonderful colour plate books documenting the botany of South Africa and subjects including colonial encounters, big-game hunting and politics. Throughout there is a solid backbone of the great African explorers from the Victorian era including Stanley, Livingstone and Burton.

Back_to_the_Cradle_catalogue - View PDF


ALLEN, William. Picturesque views on the River Niger, 1840.

Rare first edition with 10 hand-coloured plates and map


William Allen was an English naval officer and explorer involved in fighting the African slave trade. He was also a talented artist, painting scenes of his travels, whose work was exhibited several times at the Royal Academy. On publication this book of illustrations sketched while navigating the River Niger with Richard Lemon Lander, attracted a strong list of subscribers including Robert Schomburgk, the eminent explorer. It includes several panoramas and views of the river, its natural surroundings and riverside towns such as Rabba, Nigeria.

EDWARDS, AMELIA B. A Thousand Miles up the Nile, 1877.

First edition, 17 full-page plates, 62 vignettes, 2 coloured folding maps


A Victorian travel classic, this is Amelia Edward's account of her travels in Egypt that led her to become a leading Egyptologist.  The author was one of a party, which, in February 1874, discovered and excavated an interesting group of ruins at Aboo Simbel, in Nubia. Now out of print, this copy is one of the earliest dust-wrapped books that we have handled with original richly decorated cream cloth gilt cover lettered in red.

LOPES, Duarte; Philippo Pigafetta.
A report of the kingdome of Congo, a region of Africa

Printed by Iohn Wolfe, London, 1597


First edition in English complete with the Lopes-Pigafetta map of Africa which overthrew the old Ptolemic idea of the Mountains of the Moon being the source of the Nile with a vast central lake, and instead showed that the Nile flowed from a pair of lakes, one above the other on the same meridian.

BOWDICH, Thomas Edward. Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, 1819.

First edition with fine hand-coloured aquatint plates


Bowdich was appointed conductor of the African Company mission to Ashantee in 1815, superseding his chief. He led the negotiations with the King of Ashantee which resulted in a treaty bringing peace to the British settlements on the Gold Coast. This book recounts his mission and it has been called “The most important [work] after Bruce’s, it excited great interest, as an almost incredible story, recalling The Arabian Nights, of a land and people of warlike and barbaric splendour hitherto unknown.”

Find out More

For more information concerning these newly catalogued items or to request our Africa catalogue please contact Julian MacKenzie in our Travel Department.

Looking East, Looking West: Highlights from our Ottoman catalogue

The Ottoman Empire ranks alongside the Roman and Byzantine as one of the most powerful imperial systems in world history. In existence from the late thirteenth century until 1923 and embracing at its height most of Southeastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, it was arguably the most influential political system over the course of more than a millennium of Islamic history.  Our latest catalogue of 100 books and prints gives a full picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state from a European perspective, not just synonymous with Turkish history but many others.

View PDF catalogue: Shapero_LookingEast_LookingWest

BURTON, Richard F., Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah. 1855-56

First edition, 3 volumes. £6750

In 1853 intrepid British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton disguised himself as an Islamic pilgrim and made the trek into the heart of Arabia visiting the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. If his true identity as a European Christian had been exposed, the penalty for his indiscretion would have been death.  The publication of his account of the journey brought him fame as an adventurer and also as a man of considerable knowledge about Arabs, their customs and way of life.

Further Reading - Larger than Life - the explorer Richard Buron

MAYER, Luigi. Views in Egypt. 1805

First editions. Three separately published works bound in one volume, folio.


Luigi Mayer (1755-1803) was an Italian-German artist and one of the earliest and most important late 18th-century European painters of the Ottoman Empire. A student of Piranesi, he made the illustrations when he was employed as the personal view painter for Sir Robert Ainslie, British ambassador at Constantinople.

The scenes here are quite memorable, not only for the impressive views of ancient monuments, but for their glimpses in to the lives and culture of the people including a rather thrilling depiction of the exploration of Egyptian tombs.

PREZIOSI, Amadeo, follower of.  Pair of watercolours depicting scenes inside the Grand Bazaar at Istanbul. Second half of the nineteenth century.

Watercolours with gouache on paper, framed and glazed. £25,000

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul  is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.  The watercolours depict the Bazaar before the advent of shops as we know them. In one, a merchant and his wife, in another a group of well-dressed lightly veiled Ottoman beauties.

A native of Malta, Preziosi first visited Istanbul in 1842, and depicting the city and its people in their distinctive costumes and attitudes was to be the focus for his artistic career thereafter.  Preziosi’s gift for depicting people and costume, and free flowing lines, along with attention to small details, make his work particularly appealing, and inspired a school of followers.

Talk & Catalogue Launch: The Ottoman Empire: 22 Feb. 18:00–21:00

Coinciding with the launch of our new catalogue we have arranged for one of the UK's leading historians to give a short talk about the Ottoman Empire. Dr. Philip Mansel's latest book is Aleppo: Rise and Fall of a Syria’s Great Merchant City.

Find out More

For more information concerning these newly catalogued items or to request our Ottoman catalogue please contact Julian MacKenzie in our Travel Department.

Voyages and the Pacific 2016

Download the PDF catalogue

Welcome to our first ever catalogue devoted to the Pacific regions


- A complete set of The Bligh Court Martial Pamphlets
- Berkh's first edition illustrated account of the Arctic and Russian America
- Sarychev's voyage of Captain Billings
- The rare atlas to Lisianskiy's voyage

For further information please contact Julian MacKenzie (Head of the Travel Department)

Fire and Ice: Travel Catalogue 2016



From the Tropics to the Ice World



Download the PDF catalogue.


  • - Worsley's Boat Journey with original letters;
  • - A wonderful album of photographs taken by Herbert Ponting on the Terra Nova expedition;
  • - David Livingstone's Missionary Travels;
  • - The earliest account by a Russian of the United States;
  • - The original typed engineer's report for the reconnaissance of routes for the proposed Waichow to Hoi Fung Yuen highway.


These might be my personal favourites but there are plenty of other books to enjoy here. Also, these recent acquisitions represent just a small part of our travel stock, so please contact me if you are looking for any other travel books. In case you are wondering why there are no Pacific books here, fear not! Our next travel catalogue will be devoted to the Pacific. If this floats your boat, contact me to make sure you receive a copy.

Julian MacKenzie (Head of the Travel Department)