The Five Most Expensive Books Ever Sold at Auction

In most instances, buying something to read is relatively cheap and people buy books for either educational or recreational purposes. They are made from low-cost products, such as paper and cardboard, and are mass produced to keep down the costs of production. People will usually pay less than $20 to buy themselves something to read by their favorite author and it is something that they can then keep after reading or choose to sell on or give away to a friend. Second-hand books are really cheap to buy as they are a used item. However, that is not always the case as there are some old books that are exceptionally valuable. The reasons for this are usually because of their age, because they were part of a limited-edition of a book, or because they are the only remaining example of work by a particular author. The prices that such books can bring are staggering and you may be surprised to learn how much book enthusiasts were willing to pay at auction for the world’s most expensive books ever sold.

5. Rothschild Prayer Book – $13.4 Million

This prayer book was bought by Kerry Stokes, an Australian businessman, from an auction at Christie’s New York for $13.4 million. It is currently on display in the Australian National Library. The book is an important Flemishmanuscript book of hours that is illuminated and it is extremely rare, hence its value. It was compiled by several different artists.

4. Bay Psalm Book – $14.165 Million

The reason that itis so special is that it was the first book ever printed in what is now the United States. The book was created in 1640, approximately 20 years after the pilgrims had arrived in Cambridge Massachusetts. It is believed that there are currently just 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book in existence and these are distributed around universities in the United States, such as Yale and Harvard, and in libraries including the New York Public Library. A copy of it was bought for $14.165 million by the American financier David Rubenstein. He bought it from Old South Church in Boston.

3. The St. Cuthbert Gospel – $14.3 Million

The St. Cuthbert Gospel is one of the most valuable religious books in the world and it is also known as the St. Cuthbert Gospel of St. John or also sometimes called the Stonyhurst Gospel. Written in Latin, This is an early Gospel that dates back to the 8th century and its age is one of the reasons why it is so valuable. The value certainly doesn’t come from its size as it measures just 138 millimeters by 92 millimeters. It was bought by the British Library for $14.3 Million in 2012 and is now one of the most protected books of its age in the world.

2. The Magna Carta – $21.2 Million

Although it is commonly referred to as the Magna Carta, its official name is the Magna Carta Libertatum. It is of historical significance as it is a charter that was agreed by King John of England that dates back to June 15th, 1215. Both its age and its historical significance are what has made this document have such an astronomical value. It was created by the federal barons of England in the form of a treaty that aimed to limit the powers of King John and it is signed by the King himself. Outlined in the agreement are the rights of the church, access to swift justice, and the protection of the barons from illegal imprisonment. Many of the rules outlined in the Magna Carta were further developed at a later date and became rules of constitutional law. There are only four copies of the Magna Carta currently in existence and it is not known how many copies were originally made. They are now worth an astronomical $21.2 million.

1. Codex Leicester – $30.8 Million

The Codex Leicester is in the form of a journal and contains just 72 pages. It is the scientific writings of Leonardo Da Vinci. It contains his thoughts on why the moon is luminous and how to find fossils. Da Vinci hand wrote the documents himself. When the Codex Leicester went on sale at Christie’s auction house in 1994, it sold for an astonishing $30.8 million. Codex Leicester is now owned by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. The entrepreneur scanned many of the pages and used them as screensavers for Windows 95.


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