United Arab Emirates: Timed to coincide with the rare book dealer’s participation at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates from May 23 - 29, this year’s selection is headlined by the most extensive private collection of works of and by Sir Richard Francis Burton – famed British explorer of Arabia, Asia and Africa – and his wife, Isabel Lady Burton.

The £2 million Rothschild collection of Burton works is composed of autograph manuscripts and letters, presentation copies, inscribed and annotated works, drawings, photographs, printed books, pamphlets, and articles, amounting to several hundred autograph pages and almost 200 printed works, including rarities such as:

  • A first edition of Burton’s Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah & Meccah – an exceptionally fine set in three volumes of “one of the greatest works of travel ever published” in bright blue gilt lettered original cloth.
  • A first edition of Lady Burton’s version of her husband’s translation of Arabian Nights – “prepared for household reading” and bound in the original white cloth with gold designs. Lady Burton sanitized her husband’s edition in order “to guarantee that no mother shall regret her girl’s reading this Arabian Nights”.

Peter Harrington’s Abu Dhabi catalogue additionally collates a fine selection of insightful accounts, manuscripts and exquisitely bound works that revolve around significant moments in the history of the Gulf Arab states as well as the broader Middle Eastern arena.

“Our collection at Abu Dhabi this year showcases a fascinating complement of important official records and intimate personal observations that together provide a vivid picture of life in the Middle East in the early and mid-20th century,” says Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington.

“The Rothschild collection of Burton is of course a high point, offering a collector of regional rarities the extraordinary opportunity to acquire what is perhaps the most extensive private collection of Burton works to ever come on the market,” adds Pom.

“While the prolific accounts and celebrated works of Burton and other famous explorers such as T.E. Lawrence are infinitely collectable, we are pleased to also include an expanded selection of unusually rare and uncommon works that offer a fresh perspective in understanding and appreciating the region’s rich and complex history.”


  • A magnificent Qajar Qu’ran in a prized 18th-century Zand lacquer binding featuring gilt-speckled central panels, which have the glittering effect of a mosaic in miniature – the illumination within is elaborate, alive with colours and gold, rich in the exuberant luxury of Qajar decorative art. The manuscript’s numerous marginal markers drip with petals of pink and blue, deep blue penwork elaborations, and carefully burnished gold. The calligraphic lacquer binding is the work of an anonymous artisan of the 18th-century. The 19th century manuscript itself was almost certainly produced to match this prized, historic binding - £27,500
  • Trucial States - a fascinating and unpublished archive of journals kept by a Royal Navy midshipman during a tour of the Gulf in 1930-31 which includes a compelling first-hand account of a visit to Dubai and a reception for the Trucial Sheikhs of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain onboard the HMS Effingham, all described as “fine upstanding men” - £125,000
  • A first edition of the landmark biography of the great conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) by Ahmad Ibn ‘Arabshah’ – this copy has been extensively annotated in Arabic, Latin, and English by different previous owners - £35,000
  • An inscribed first edition of F.M. Hunter’s An Account of the British Settlement of Aden – Hunter’s book was the first to give a photographic record of Aden and the first substantial work on the British settlement – £15,000
  • Rare original plans for the astonishing but short-lived royal Nasiriyah Palace of King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh - £17,500
  • A rare and striking, boldly coloured cautionary wall poster from the early 1970s aimed at members of the UAE’s newly formed Union Defence Force that reads: “Take pride in your weapons and your army. Stay away from bad influences: drugs, money, women, wine” – showing a smart recruit in keffiyeh with UDF cap badge confronted with the lures of shisha, a winning hand of cards, a skimpily clad temptress, and a bottle of wine - £1,875
  • Beautifully produced first edition in English of The Life of Mohammad – a fascinating collaboration between the French artist Étienne (later Nasreddine) Dinet, the Berber essayist Sliman ben Ibrahim and the distinguished Algerian calligrapher and miniaturist Mohammad Racim - £2,750
  • One of three complete copies known of the 18th-century Mughal court physician Hakim Kazim’s comprehensive revision of al-Majusi’s monumental 10th-century Kitab kamil al-sina‘a al-tibbiya (Complete book of the medical art). ‘Ali ibn al-‘Abbas al-Majusi compiled his work as a systematic medical compendium in twenty sections, ten theoretical and ten practical, critiquing the works of classical Greek authorities and his own contemporaries alike - £10,000
  • A first edition of Lady Anne Blunt’s Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates – an engaging account of “one of the coolest and most level-headed of all lady travellers”, based on Lady Blunt’s diaries kept during her travels in the Middle East from 1877 to 1878. To find out how the Bedouin lived, Lady Anne lived like one herself; she became a temporary nomad, riding the two thousand miles from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf for the most part in Arab dress, and without guides or the usual caravan - £1,250.

The Abu Dhabi 2022 catalogue is presented in two sections – the first with material relating to the Islamic and Arabic speaking world as noted above, and the second with highlights of Western literature. These include:

  • First impression, printed on vellum, of this meticulously engraved facsimile of the Magna Carta, Perhaps the most-celebrated legal document of the English-speaking world - £22,500
  • An exceedingly rare, inscribed copy and likely the only surviving family copy of Grimm’s tales, warmly inscribed by Jacob Grimm to his niece, Auguste, daughter of his brother Wilhelm – £175,000
  • A first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, one of 750 copies on handmade paper, unrestored in original blue wrappers - £55,000

Peter Harrington has been a regular exhibitor at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair since 2016, confirming a strong commitment to the Middle Eastern market which comprises around 10% of their international sales

The UAE accounts for the largest share of Peter Harrington’s Middle East business, complemented by a growing collector community in Saudi Arabia and other GCC states. Acquisitions range from individual books in the early thousands to curated collections that reach over several million dirhams.

“Private patrons of the arts and culture, passionate bibliophiles interested in rare works from the Islamic and Western world and institutional buyers tasked with the preservation of regional records constitute the core buyer profile in the Middle East. First-hand accounts, photographic albums and early cartography, in addition to diplomatic dispatches, continue to be popular. The market is small but mature, knowledgeable and demanding in its specificity,” adds Pom.

Peter Harrington will exhibit at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Hall 9, E17.

NOTE ON INTERNATIONAL DELIVERY: Items in this catalogue are available for sale at www.peterharrington.co.uk

Free standard international delivery on all book orders available.



Since its establishment in 1969, Peter Harrington has specialised in sourcing, selling and buying the finest-quality original first editions, signed, rare and antiquarian books, fine bindings, and library sets.

One of the leading rare book dealers in the world and the largest antiquarian book dealer in Europe, Peter Harrington has, for over half a century, dealt with a stock of thousands of fine books from rare seventeenth-century Shakespeare folios to highly sought-after contemporary classics such as signed and inscribed first editions of the Harry Potter series.

Peter Harrington operates two stores in London – a flagship double-fronted store in Chelsea with more than 20,000 volumes and 6,000 works on paper displayed over four floors, and a store on Dover Street in the West End of London that offers a carefully curated selection of its best stock in a gallery-style environment. As highly respected authorities in their fields, its team of rare book specialists are regularly called upon to advise individual and institutional collectors around the world seeking to enhance their collections and build specialist libraries on niche topics on everything ranging from jazz, climate change and feminist writers, to early travel literature from the Middle East, the Far East, Central Asia and the Pacific, as well as landmark literary, economic and philosophical works.

Peter Harrington Rare Books is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association and offers an unconditional guarantee on the authenticity and completeness of each item it sells, as described in the Editor’s Notes. The company has been named on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 (2021), Sunday Times SME Export Track 100 (2015) and Business Hot 100 (2015).


For further information on Peter Harrington, hi-res images, copies of its catalogues, and to arrange interviews with Pom Harrington or any of Peter Harrington’s team of specialist book dealers, please contact:

Radhina Almeida Coutinho, Head of Public Relations
Walid Majzoub
Email: walid.majzoub@traccs.net