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Perles d’Orient / Signed Example for Ernesta Stern


A rare first edition of poems and short essays on the Orient was published in French language in Istanbul by a Persian diplomat and writer Mirza Reza Khan Arfa’ Al-Dawlah (1846 – 1937) and contains a hand-written dedication to an intellectual and bibliophile Ernesta Stern, a famous Jewish literary hostess and an author.


8°, [2 pp.], portrait of the author, printed on thicker paper, with a dedication by the author to Ernesta Stern, dated 1910, silk paper guard, 199 pp. with small vignettes and blue ornaments in margins, [3 pp.] blank, original dark redish-brown binding with gold lettering, original patterned endpaper, red edges, bookplate of Ernesta Stern mounted on the inner side of the front board (binding slightly age-toned with a tiny crack in the upper part of the spine verso, internally in a clean and crisp condition).




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Ernesta Stern

Ernesta Stern (née Maria Ernesta Hierschel de Minerbi, nom de plume Maria Star, 1854 – 1926) born to a Jewish family in Trieste, Austro-Hungary, became one of the central figures of a Parisian literary gatherings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1874, Ernesta married Louis Stern (1840-1900) from a wealthy and prominent Jewish family of bankers, originating from Frankfurt, after which she moved to Paris, where she started hosting a literary salon in their city palace on 68 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. Stern’s salons became one of the most prominent intellectual events in Paris, bringing together people, such as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Marcel Proust.

Ernesta Stern owed a large private library of works, written by the people visiting her salon and dedicated to her. The books were either bound in elegant Morocco bindings with Stern’s monogram or contained her bookplate. She authored about 20 works herself.

In 1904, Ernesta had commissioned a prominent villa named Villa Torre Clementina, located in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, on the French Riviera, east from Monaco. The villa became a new gathering place for literati and is today protected as a historical monument.

In 1920, Ernesta Stern was awarded the knighthood of the Legion of Honour.


Mirza Reza begun his diplomatic career in Tiflis in 1873 as an interpreter to Russian to the Persian Shah Naser al-Din Shah Qajar. In 1889, he was appointed Persian consul-general in the same city. In 1895, Mirza Reza was named Persian minister to the Russian court at St. Petersburg and five years later, he was transferred to Istanbul as an ambassador to the Ottoman court.

His wife Elsa Cecilia Maria Lindberg-Dovlette (1874-1944) was a known Swedish writer, who published three reports on the Ottoman harems as an insider: Kvinnor från minareternas stad (1908, Women from the City of Minarets), Främling (1924 and 1929, Stranger) and Bakom stängda haremsdörrar (1931, Behind the Closed Doors of the Harem).

This is a rare first edition, published by Levant Herald in Istanbul, where Mirza Reza Khan worked as a Persian ambassador at the time. The second, more common one, was published a year later in Paris.

We could only trace one institutional example of Worldcat (Bibliothèque nationale de France).

References: OCLC 458009680, 417479787 (with no listed examples in libraries).


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