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Rare, old books heading under the hammer

Published: 6:33PM Monday April 13, 2009 Source: ONE News

One of the most significant private collections of rare books in Australasia is about to go under the hammer in Wellington.

The collection includes a page from one of the world's first printed books and manuscripts that are nearly 1,000 years old.

The books are so valuable; they are kept under lock and key.

"We're talking old books and really significant from the 12th 13th century on through to the 18th century," says Anthony Gallagher, Dunbar Sloane Auction House.

The books have survived plagues, book burnings and bloody wars.

One of the oldest books in the collection is a Persian manuscript, written in 1059, making the pages nearly 1000 years old.

Before settling in Wellington, the collection's late owner Ted Simpson was a librarian at England's John Rylands Library which holds one of Europe's best collections of rare books.

"He was buying these books between the wars...and picking them up when there wasn't a lot of money around, he had a very very good eye, he bought very good condition and he bought rare subject matter....and now down the track he's made a very good investment," says Gallagher.

The 180 books are expected to bring in around a quarter of a million dollars with the auction attracting local and worldwide interest.

The New Zealand National Library will be bidding on some works.

Just where in the world the books will end up, will be determined at the April 22nd auction.