5 most expensive books ever sold

13 July 2009

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/2097/2261coolfunnypicturesph.jpgThe next time your flight from Heathrow is delayed by five hours and you grumble at forking over a fiver for a nice thick book from WHSmith to tide you over, think what a bargain you're getting compared to the 5 most expensive books of the 20th century. Here's a countdown:

5. The Gutenberg Bible was the first big project Johannes Gutenberg took on after inventing movable type. In 1987, one sold for £3.3 million.

4. The Northumberland Bestiary sounds like a 13th century version of James Herriot meets C.S. Lewis. It includes detailed illustrations and descriptions of animals both real and imaginary. In 1990 it sold for £3.6 million.

3. The Canterbury Tales, 1st Edition. Only about 12 copies of this 1477 book are still accounted for. In 1998 one of those copies fetched £4.6 million.

2. Gospels of Henry the Lion was commissioned by Henry, Prince of Saxony and Bavaria, in 1188. It consists of 4 holy gospels on parchment with over 50 small gold leaf paintings. In 1983 it sold for £7.4 million.

1. The Codex Leicester is a notebook full of Da Vinci's artistic thoughts, sketches, observations, and notes was bought by a man named Bill Gates in 1994 for £19 million.

Compared to these five, the five most expensive books sold in 2008 by AbeBooks.com (as compiled by CSmonitor.com sound like real bargains:

5. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia by David Roberts – £7,629
4. Specimens of British Minerals Selected from the Cabinet of Philip Rashleigh by Philip Rashleigh – £7,872
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – £7946
2. L’Abou Naddara, Journal Arabe Illustre (1878-1884) by James Sanua – £8,024
1. Etudes à l’Eau-Forte by Francis Seymour Haden – £10,626

So, tell us: a few centuries from now, which books from today do you think will sell for huge sums of money?


  • > H.
    Sorry, I thought the Guttenberg Bible was a Biography by Mahoney from Police accademy. I have an original print of THE bible signed by Jesus himself, any offers Bill?
  • James
    Killed by a Passing snowflake.
  • Greg W.
    Locate a reference in one book of the Gospels and see the comparable referencs in the other three books.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment