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Sotheby’s: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History (May 2013)

May 14, 2013

Sotheby’s New Bond Street, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA, UK

Sotheby’s has a fine selection of books, manuscripts and photographs to tease the Ottomanist and Turcophile in its books travel sale on Tuesday. From the collection of Zurich bibliophile Herry J Schaeffer comes this early-18th-century manuscript of Pîrî Reis’s 16th-century Book of Navigation for the Mediterranean. The original manuscript was prepared when Süleyman the Magnificent came to the throne. Coincidentally, there is a rare opportunity to the see the most important Pîrî Reis map at the Topkapı Palace, until the end of this week: Before and After Pîrî Reis: Maps at the Topkapı Palace (until May 20) marks the 500th anniversary of the man who put both the Americas and Africa on the map.

The provenance includes the bibliomanic Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872). After spending as much as a quarter of a million pounds every year on books, assembling some 40,000 printed books and 60,000 manuscripts, Phillipps tried to persuade Disraeli to buy his collection for the Biritish Library. Unsuccessful in this, at his death he insisted that no bookseller should ever rearrange them and that no Roman Catholic, particularly his son-in-law, should ever be allowed to see them – a stipulation overturned in court as ‘too restrictive’; it was only in 2006 that the remnants of the collection were sold at Christie’s.

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