The first edition of the collection of fascinating images of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem was unearthed by volunteers cataloguing the Yorkshire Museum library in York.
The complete version of ’The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia and Nubia’, by David Roberts, is one of only 400 copies of the first edition ever made - other copies have been owned by Queen Victoria and the Tsar of Russia.
The first edition was printed in London in 1842, and the large books include hand-coloured lithographs of famous sites throughout the Holy Land from 1838 and 1839.
The Yorkshire Museum’s curator of archaeology, Andrew Morrison, said: “The books are a truly fantastic find and it is great they have been unearthed so close to Christmas.
“David Roberts was one of the first ’photo-journalists’ and his incredibly detailed paintings of the Middle East gave British society a fabulous insight into the everyday life of people in a world completely different from theirs.
See the above page for the full story, plus a comment in response, re a technical point.