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A spread from a rare complete copy of the 1593, first printed edition of Avicenna’s ‘Canon of Medicine’ – sold by Bloomsbury Auctions for £17,000.

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Bloomsbury Auctions (25% buyer’s premium), who sold it for £17,000 as part of an April 30 sale of Islamic and other Western works of art on paper, says that only three other copies are recorded at auction – all of which were incomplete.

The work of a Persian physician and astronomer who died in 1037, it was used in both Western and Islamic universities as a standard medical enyclopedia until the 18th century.

This monumental edition was produced by the Typographica Medicea in Rome, the press responsible for many of the earlier printed versions of Arabic texts, and indeed for its translations of Christian and other European texts into Arabic.

Persian version

On May 3, Roseberys (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) sold at £34,000 a Persian medical treatise on various illnesses and their treatment, a manuscript compiled in 1197 by Muhammed bin ‘Aki bin ‘Umar al Mutatabbib for his own use.