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Rare Books and Special Collections Library

Max Debbane Collection

Max DebbaneThe Debbane collection consists of works assembled by Alexandria businessman Max Debbane (1892-1965). Born into a Levantine family there, Debbane received his formal education in local Jesuit institutions and studied law in Paris in the years prior to the First World War. HisRifaud Tableau time in France left a major mark on his tastes and interests, and his almost limitless intellectual curiosity prompted his patronage of many of Alexandria's major cultural institutions, including the Conservatoire, the Greco-Roman Museum, and the Archaeological Society, for which he served as secretary and the editor of its bulletin. Debbane also associated with writers and artists like André Gide, Jean Cocteau, and the photographer Hassia, and befriended many of the scholars who came to Egypt to study its history and culture. Among them were P.M Fraser, Etienne Drioton, and Umas Tusun. Debbane alone was entrusted with editing the work of Islamic art and architecture scholar K.A.C. Creswell.

Bruce Travels to Discover the Source of the NileDebbane possessed a love of fine books, evident in the beautiful bindings on many of the volumes in the collection. Rather than travel extensively to build his library, Debbane preferred to purchase books from local dealers and auctions. After his death, the library was divided and sold, with AUC acquiring several thousand of the Belzoni Egypt and Nubiavolumes, mainly on history and art. Among the collection's strength's are Islamic studies and the history of Egypt. The period of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt is particularly well-documented, with memoirs by scholars like Vivant Denon. Travel literature represents another important component of the collection, which includes works like Scottish explorer James Bruce's 1790 Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile.