Friday, Jan 23, 1998

There are also a few lesser-known New York dealers. Imperial Fine Books, a shop for leatherbound fine and rare books, is in an upstairs gallery at 790 Madison Avenue, at 66th Street. It is owned by Ms. Mohamed, who was born in Guyana and has been in the rare-book field for 25 years.

"What I enjoy is putting whole libraries together," Ms. Mohamed said. "I have first-edition children's books like 'Alice in Wonderland,' `Eloise' and A. A. Milne's Pooh series, as well as shelves full of gold- tooled leather volumes of history, poetry and English literature."

Ms. Mohamed has wonderfully obscure books like an 1819 volume of Baron Vivant Denon's illustrations of Egyptian monuments (he accompanied Napoleon on the Egyptian campaign of 1798) for $4,000, and "A King's Story: Memoirs of HRH the Duke of Windsor" for $850. The Duke was a frequent visitor to Palm Beach, and stashed inside this volume is one of his signed letters, on Windsor stationery.

Ms. Mohamed is also known for her "Cosway bindings," books whose tooled-leather covers have been cut to reveal oval miniature portraits in the style of the English painter Richard Cosway (1742-1821). His wife, Maria, was the beauty who enchanted Thomas Jefferson when he lived in Paris.