Printed edition of Islamic medical text is healthy seller

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.

Billed as the first printed edition of the most authoritative medical text in the Islamic world, a 1593 copy of a work known in the English-speaking world as Avicenna’s ‘Canon of Medicine’ was part of a recent London sale.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Ian McKay

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.