Most Expensive Books Ever Sold

atkins-bookshelf-booksNo matter how much you love your ebook (and the required eReader), an intangible collection of binary digits, it will never appreciate like a printed book. Centuries from now an ebook will be lost to time, bits decaying on a CDROM or server, while printed books will continue to increase dramatically in value. Just how much will they appreciate? A review of the most expensive books ever sold provides a glimpse into just how precious books will be in the near and distant future. Bibliophiles will note that one of the most valuable books in the world, the Gutenberg Bible (1454), is not on the list. About 180 were originally produced and only 48 exist today; however only 21 of these are complete. Sales are rarer than the book. The most recent sale was in 2007, when a single leaf sold for $74,000. Note that the Gutenberg Bible has 1,292 pages, so if you do the math based on that sale (1,291 x $74,000), a complete Bible would be worth about $95.6 million —  and Gutenberg would have loved that level of appreciation.

1. The Codex Leicester by Leonardo da Vinci (1719)
Value: $30.8 million
Year Purchased: 1994
Buyer: Bill Gates

2. The Magna Carta (1297)
Value: $21.3 million
Year Purchased: 2007
Buyer: David Rubenstein

3. Saint Cuthbert Gospel (c. 688)
Value: 14.3 million
Year Purchased: 2012
Buyer: British Library 

4. The Bay Psalm Book (1640)
Value: $14.2
Year Purchased: 2013
Buyer: David Rubenstein
Notes: The first book published in English in the United States. There are 11 copies in existence.

5. The Rothschild Prayerbook or Rothschild Hours (1500-1520)
Value: $13.6 million
Year Purchased: 2014
Buyer: an undisclosed European collector

6. The Birds of America by John James Audubon (1827)
Value: $11.5 million
Year Purchased: 2010
Buyer: Michael Tollemache

7. The Gospels of Henry the Lion (c. 1175)
Value: $8.1 million
Year Purchased: 1983
Buyer: A German collective

8. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1477)
Value: $7.5 million
Year Purchased: 1998
Buyer: Paul Getty

9. Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies (known as the First Folio) by William Shakespeare (1623)
Value: $6.2 million
Year Purchased: 2001
Buyer: Paul Allen
Notes: The most reliable source for the text of most of Shakespeare’s plays. Originally sold for about 1 pound. Out of 800 originally printed, about 233 copies exist today, but most are incomplete. Out of the 233 copies, only 40 are complete.

Read related posts: The Most Expensive American Book
Most Expensive Books Sold in 2012
Most Expensive Book in the World
What is the Declaration of Independence Worth?
The Most Expensive Painting

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