The world’s most expensive books are collector items, and collectors are willing to pay whatever it takes to be proud owners of these books. Best Design Books, Design Limited Edition‘s partner blog made a selection of the 5 most expensive books in the world and we decided to share it with you.
1. Birds of America, by John James Audubon
Recently, the auction house Christie’s in New York auctioned a copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. Already considered the most expensive printed book in history, this piece was sold in 2010 for $11.5 million. In fact, according to experts, a list of the 10 most expensive books ever sold would include at least three copies of this work. Although this time the book price at auction did not break any records, it did reach the considerable sum of $7.9 million.
2. The First Book of Urizen, by William Blake
Printed in 1794, The First Book of Urizen is a key piece to understand the body of work of William Blake, whose unique poetry and illustrations arouse tremendous interest among scholars. The story or poem deals with the subject of creation, or rather pre-creation, and each stanza is dramatically illustrated and etched into copper plates. The story is seen as a parody of the Book of Genisis.One of the eight copies, known to exist, was sold by Sotheby’s in New York for $ 2,500,000.
3. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J. K. Rowling Rowling
This book after the publication of the seventh volume of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The award-winning author created this tomes to write and illustrate, by hand, seven copies of this magnificent story. While Rowling donated six copies to friends and editors, Amazon auctioned a seventh copy in 2007. Finally, sold for $3.9 million, this piece is now the most expensive modern manuscript ever sold. The profits obtained from the sale were donated to The Children’s Voice Foundation.
4. Geographia (World Atlas), by Claudio Ptolemy
The first World Atlas to be printed was also the first book in history to include engraved illustrations. A work of Claudio Ptolemy, printed in 1477, this piece depicts the world as it was known to the Roman Empire. Much of the information presented by Ptolemy in this work was based on the work of geographer Marinus of Tyre. It was sold, by Sotheby’s, in London for $4 million.
5. The First Folio, by William Shakespeare
During his lifetime, Shakespeare published only 16 of his works. A few years after his death in 1616, a volume, including 12 of his writings, was published. Known as the First Folio, there are only about 250 surviving copies of the 750 printed originally. Described by Sotheby’s of London as “the most outstanding book of English literature”, it was auctioned for $6.1 million.
“For centuries, books were a luxury reserved only for royalty, the clergy or the very affluent. The painstaking work behind each page, carefully written and illustrated by hand, made a masterpiece of each book, singular and unique items that took many years to complete. And while the advent of printing allowed mass production; many of these early copies are now the object of desire for passionate bibliophiles.” In Azure.
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