5 Of The World's Most Expensive Books

H ave you ever wondered who owns the most expensive books in the world? Books are a treasure with an entire world enclosed in its tiny words and delicate pages. You start reading a book and the words interweave to create a whole picture that plays inside your head as you shift through the pages. This isn’t just limited to fiction, and it is a wonder that something you can hold in your hands and carry around can hold in itself events and knowledge that can span decades to centuries.

Why Are Some Books So Expensive?

This is the reason books have the value that they do, but some books up end up more valuable than others for a multitude of reasons. Here is a compilation of the most expensive books in the world, the prices they were sold for, their worth, and the reason they are so valuable. 

A few reasons why some books are expensive are age, scarcity, the cultural significance of their content, the person they were written by, and sacredness.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the most famous crime novels written by Sir Arthur in 1901 with his character Sherlock Holmes. It is considered a timeless piece and its fame has led to the early illustrations of the book being sold at extravagant prices.

The 1957 illustration of the novel by Shirley Huges is currently listed for a whopping $55,472.76.

Codex Leicester by Leonardo Da Vinci 

Codex Leicester is a collection of Da Vinci’s scientific knowledge and writings. The leather-bound notebook contains a total of 36 sheets of parchment paper and the Codex itself only occupies 17 of these pages folded in half. The pages were filled with writings, diagrams, and illustrations on both sides. The content inside it is neither linear nor cohesively arranged. It is a somewhat haphazard account of Da Vinci’s personal discoveries and findings on various topics that include astronomy, properties of water, air, and earth, fossils, the moon, and its nightly glow. Da Vinci was a curious soul and often made speculations on the reasons behind the natural phenomena. The Codex is handwritten by Da Vinci in his famous “mirror style” writing. 

The Codex was sold in 1994 for $30.8 million (inflation correction price $53.5 million) to Bill Gates. It holds the record for the most expensive scientific book to ever be sold.

Bombard Talmud

The Talmud is the primary religious scripture for Rabbinic Judaism and is the text from where the Jewish religious law is derived from. Daniel Bomberg was one of the most prominent printers of religious texts in the 15th and 16th centuries and he was the one who finished printing the Babylonian Talmud. Its publication was approved by Pope Leo X and was supervised and edited by Rabbi Chiya Meir b. David, who was an important figure in the Venice rabbinical court. This copy was used as the standard for page design, layout, and pagination.

The book was bought by Stephan Loewentheil, an antiquarian book dealer. He owns the 19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop and acquired this meticulously preserved and precious edition in 2015 for $9.3 million (inflation corrected price: $10.1 million).

Birds of America by John James Audubon

Birds of America was published between 1827 and 1838 and is considered to be the quintessence of American ornithological illustration. The book contains 400 large watercolor paintings of 1037 birds in America which John James Audobon hand-painted and collected and then compiled in several volumes. The paintings don’t only have aesthetic value but are also scientifically accurate and therefore valuable. 

Only 120 complete collections of the volumes exist today. The most expensive one was sold for $9.65 million at an auction in New York.

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Canterbury tales is a collection of 24 stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400. The premise of the stories is that a group of pilgrims who travel to Canterbury cathedral compete in storytelling. Hence the name Canterbury tales. The underlying theme behind most of the stories in this collection is social satire. The first edition copy was published in 1477 in Westminster Abbey and it is known that only 12 total copies exist to this day. 

The first edition copy was sold in 1998 to billionaire philanthropist Paul Getty for a record-breaking 4.6 million pounds ($7.5 million). It is one of the most expensive books of fiction to ever be sold.

Now, isn't it cool that the most expensive books on the world are so treasured? We wonder who is writing the next book that will be worth millions down the line!

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