Books are treasure. We’re no strangers to that. But, clearly some of us these people took the saying a little too literally. But, you can’t really blame them because these books are a part of world legacy—they have shaped knowledge for generations that have come and gone and, in some cases, have changed the way the world would read a book.
Here are the world’s most expensive books and they might surprise you!
1. The Bay Psalm Book
© Telegraph UK
One of the first editions of a version of the Book of Psalms, translated and produced by the Congregationalist Puritans, emigrants of the Massachusetts Bay area, the book was sold at a Sotheby’s auction last year, in New York, for a whopping $14,165,000. It was printed in 1640 and is one of the 11 surviving copies in the world.
2. The Birds Of America
Authored by John James Audubon, this is a first edition copy of a collection of drawings by Audubon who used wire to prop birds up in their natural habitats and draw them in their original life sizes. The drawings had to be accommodated within the double-elephant folio sized pages of the book. Auctioned in 2010, at Sotheby’s London, as part of the sale of Magnificent Books, Manuscripts and Drawings from the Collection of Frederick, Second Lord Hesketh, the book sold for £7,321,250.
3. The Gutenberg Bible
One of the first books to ever have been printed by Johann Gutenberg in 1455, Mainz, the Gutenberg Bible was the onset of printing presses in the world. It changed the way books were perceived in the world. Only 48 copies of the book survive today, out of which, only 31 of them are in perfect condition. A single page of the book values around £50,000, and the entire book is worth around tens of millions of pounds!
4. Comedies, Histories And Tragedies
The plays, also collectively known as The First Folio, is a collection of William Shakespeare’s earliest works. It was printed as early as 1623 but was published seven years after the bard’s death. The collection has also stood the test of time in classic literature, being one of the most sought after and widely acclaimed literary works by the celebrated Shakespeare. In 2001, it was set at a record-breaking price of $6 million and, as of today, it is said to be worth £4-5million.
5. Don Quixote
© Hulton Archive
One of the most widely acclaimed pieces of classical English literature, Don Quixote, authored by Miguel de Cervantes, has been adapted countless number of times, across different generations. It was originally published in 1605 and is a satire on the tumultuous romances of the period it was written in. One of the earliest concepts on chivalry and romances to ever have been penned, it became a legend in its own right and the key characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were immortalized through time. The last complete copy of the book was auctioned back in 1989 at a price of $1.5million.
6. Geographia Cosmographia
The Greek writer and renowned Mathematician who inspired Ptolemy’s theorem, Claudius Ptolemeaus, wrote Geographia Cosmographia, also better known as The Geography—which served as the foundation for cartography, maps and atlases the world over. While Ptolemy was faulted for the errors in measurements of the maps and locations, his works were the basis of proving that the Earth was indeed spherical and became the guiding principle for future cartographers to provide accurate measurements of the atlases of the world. A copy of this particular version, the Bologna edition sold for over £2million in 2006.
7. The Canterbury Tales
© Huntington Library
The first edition of the work, published sometime in the 15th century, sold at an auction, back in 1998, for £4.6million. The book, authored by Geoffrey Chaucer—the man considered to be the Father of English Literature—is one of the most sought after classical works in the world. The Canterbury Tales has become a must-have collectible’s item on every literary connoisseurs bucket list and a must read for every literature student in the world. Only a dozen copies of the 1477 editions survive today, all of which were printed by William Caxton. The value of the books is about seven times as much as it was back in 1998.
8. The Tales Of Beedle The Bard
© Stephen Kelly
This comes as a welcome surprise to all Harry Potter-slash-JK Rowling fans across the world. The unique version of The Tales of Beedle The Bard, by JK Rowling, is bound in brown leather and embellished with moonstones and silver, and has been illustrated by the author, herself. There are only seven such copies around the world—one of which was auctioned off to an Amazon retailer for £1.95million. The remaining six copies have been presented to members closely associated with the Harry Potter franchise, one of which, we’re guessing is the author, obviously.
9. The Codex Leicester
A collection of scientific writings by the legendary celebrated artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, it is said to be one of the artist’s most famous of all his 30 scientific works. It was originally named after Thomas Coke, later named Earl of Leicester, who had bought the codex in 1719. In 1994, Bill Gates bought the complete works for over $30 million.
10. The Stonyhurst Gospel
© British Library
This 7th century pocket gospel book is also known as the St Cuthbert Gospel, or the St Cuthbert Gospel of St John. The book was sold nine months after the British Library, in 2011, had launched a fundraiser where they set the sale price for the book at £9 million.