Arabic printing pioneer at Bloomsbury Auctions

A spread from the 16th century Persian manuscript of Nasir al-Din al Tusi’s 13th century translation into Arabic of Euclid’s Elementa Geometrica. It sold at Bloomsbury Auctions for £17,000.

A 1547 translation into Arabic of Euclid’s Elementa Geometrica sold for £17,000 as part of an October 23 sale of Islamic and Near Eastern works on paper at Bloomsbury Auctions (25/12% buyer’s premium) on October 22,

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Ian McKay


Executed on fine polished paper, this seemingly complete manuscript of 185 leaves features geometric diagrams and other illustrations throughout and though the first few gatherings are rather dampstained and darkened, with some edges repaired, it was considered generally clean.

It is a translation ascribed to the Persian polymath Nasir al-Din al Tusi (1201-74), a man often considered the founder of trigonometry as an independent mathematical discipline.

So popular did his Arabic translation of Euclid prove that in 1594 it became the first work to be printed in Arabic by the Medici Press in Rome.