A massive collection of arabian horse books including stud books and general reference volumes is being sold by Asher Rare Books in The Netherlands, with a €275,000 ($NZ460,000; $US320,000) price tag.
It is the largest private collection of its kind which has come up for sale in recent decades, representing a lifetime of serious dedication. It includes 244 works or sets from 1788 to 2011 in more than 800 volumes of mostly original or first editions.
The arabian books are from the Le Vivier and Marcia Parkinson Collections, with additions from the library of Duke Maximilian in Bavaria.
Part two of the catalogue from Asher Rare Books is “Outstanding Books on Horses”, of 85 individually priced lots. The third part is “The Horse in Art: Paintings and Prints” with 25 lots. These include paintings, engravings and lithographs, and four watercolour works by renowned British artist Peter Upton.
Amassed over the last 50 years and covering four centuries, the book collection spans all aspects of the history and development of the breeding of Arabian horses. It comprises within itself many books from the Le Vivier collection: fine press books of racing and thoroughbred literature produced by Eugene Connett’s famous Derrydale press, as well as numerous important items from the library of Duke Maximilian in Bavaria (1808-88), himself a great enthusiast of Arabian horses.
Included are the early Arabian Horse Registry of America Stud Books, and many items bear presentation inscriptions from the authors, including Carl Raswan and Gladys Brown Edwards. Most of the publications here were issued for limited circulation in runs of 1000 or fewer individually numbered copies.
As a reference library for breeding the collection is unparalleled. Perhaps the most famous reference work is the Raswan Index, of which only 380 copies were printed (many were destroyed by a flood).
Raswan became an expert on the Arabian breed through his long trips to the desert, where he lived with the Bedouins and learned their language and customs.
Several scarce early 20th century works also testify to the Western fascination with the Bedouin and desert roots of the Arabian horse: Homer Davenport’s My Quest of the Arabian Horse (1909) and Raswan’s The Black Tents of Arabia: My Life Amongst the Bedouins (1935).
Also contained in the collection are the classic reference works on Arabian and Anglo-Arabian racehorses and their breeding.
Asher Rare Books says that many of the items offered for sale are in just a handful of public institutions worldwide. Such items come into the market rarely, and recent sales of the Raswan Index and the AHRA Stud Books commanded five-figure prices.
“Yet the value of such a collection lies not simply in its impressive number of important publications, but in the vast amount of practical knowledge contained within.