The World’s Most Expensive Books
Books symbolize a piece of history of the world. Every book, irrespective of subject matter, author, popularity possesses certain value. The price of books can vary considerably. Some books cost a few dollars while others can burn a sizeable hole in your pocket.
Few books command prices in millions. If you think that such books do not have any takers, you cannot be more wrong. Auction house, Christie’s New York recently auctioned off a copy of Birds of America by John James Audubon for the tidy sum of $7.9 million. The book already holds the title of the most expensive printed book in the world with a price tag of $11.5 million in the year 2010. The costliest books in the world are mostly antique copies.
First Book of Urizen
The First Book of Urizen was initially printed way back in the year 1794. The tome is said to be one of the most important works in the series of prophetic titles by William Blake. Only eight copies survive in the present day, one of which was purchased by a private collector from Sotheby’s New York in the year 1999 for an amount of $2.5 million.
Tales of Beedle the Bard
The spin-off bestseller from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows can be easily found in mass-market paperback format in your local bookshop. Prior to publication, J.K. Rowling, the creator of the successful series, printed seven original copies, all of which were written by hand and illustrated by the author herself. Six of these copies were handed out to editors and friends. However, in the year 2007, one of the seven happened to be put up for auction and was immediately snatched up by Amazon.com for the astounding price of $3.98 million, which conferred to it the title of the most expensive contemporary manuscript ever purchased in an auction. The money from the book sale was put to good use through charity.
The first printed atlas in the world, Geographia Cosmographia, also happens to be the first book ever in the world to utilize engraved illustrations. Penned by Claudius Ptolemy in the year 1477, Cosmographia was sold by Sotheby’s London in the year 2006 for a sum of £2,136,000.
Treatise on Fruit Trees
Illustrated by Pierre Jean Francois Turpin and Pierre Antoine Poiteau, Traite des arbres fruitiers was created by Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau. At the price point of $4.5 million, the rich, five volume illustration set is most certainly the costliest tome on fruit trees.
Of the first book to be printed using movable type – the Gutenberg Bible – only 48 books remain in the world, one of which was sold off by Christie’s New York in 1987 for a record price of $4.9 million.
Shakespeare’s First Folio
From the original price of one pound, the cost of the First Folio of Shakespeare has now gone up to $6,166,000 in 2001. An estimated 228 copies still exist out of the original print run of 750. The copy was bought from Christie’s New York by the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. Paul Allen.
The Canterbury Tales
A first edition copy of the 15th century work by Geoffrey Chaucer sold for £4.6 million at Christie’s London in the year 1998.
Birds of America
Sotheby’s London was able to sell a complete first edition copy of Birds in America in the year 2010 or the sum of $11.5 million.
The Gospels of Henry the Lion
The government of Germany purchased the 266 page 12th century manuscript in the year 1983 from Sotheby’s London for almost $11.7 million.
The most famous 72 page scientific journal of Leonardo da Vinci contains handwritten musings and theories on various subjects. The journal was sold to Bill Gates in 1994 for $30.8 million.