AbeBooks: The World’s Most Expensive Book

AbeBooks: The World’s Most Expensive Book.

And I am sure you are itching to know which book it is that carries this distinction of being the world’s most expensive book to date (as of Nov., 2013).

Is it perhaps an ancient manuscript from the 4th century? Is it maybe a rare Bible? How about a work of Cicero? or Shakespeare? Or perhaps a more modern piece of literature, something from C.S. Lewis?

Bay Psalm Book - 1640No, it is this book, a Psalter, or a special edition on the book of Psalms. Specifically, it is a rare copy of the Bay Psalm Book, dated 1640, considered by many to be the first book printed in what would become the United States of America.

Even though I featured this once before, Abe Books recently did a piece on it and I judged it worthy of notice once again. Plus, Abe Books has an interesting video to go with the story.

So, on this Friday, enjoy a slice of rare book history, a piece of American history, and a morsel of psalm book history. That is a meal hard to beat! 🙂

Here is the opening part of Abe Books’ story on the Psalter. Be sure and visit the special webpage; it features many other striking and beautiful editions of the Psalter throughout history.

This is the world’s most expensive book. You are looking at the Bay Psalm Book printed in 1640, which sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $14.2 million on November 26, 2013.

The auction firm estimated the sale price would be between $15 million and $30 million – but the final price still ensured it became the world’s most expensive printed book. The world’s most expensive paper document is Leonardo da Vinci’s journal, Codex Leicester, which sold for $30.8 million in 1994.

The Bay Psalm Book was the first book printed in what became the United States and this copy was owned by the Old South Church in Boston. And guess what? The church also has another copy that will not be sold. At one time, this church owned FIVE copies.

This Bay Psalm Book now belongs to financer and philanthropist David Rubenstein who plans to loan it to various libraries across the United States.

The last Bay Psalm Book to be sold before this one was bought at a Sotheby’s auction in 1947 for $151,000 by representatives bidding on behalf of Yale University.