The world’s most expensive book….?

Bay Psalm Book

According to AbeBooks, 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 £8.8 million ($14.2 million) on 26 November 2013.

The auction firm estimated the sale price would be between £9 million and £18 million ($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 £19.1 million ($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 £94,000 ($151,000) by representatives bidding on behalf of Yale University.

So what’s all the fuss about? First, this book has huge historical value to America. Second, it’s very rare as only 1,700 copies were printed and just 11 survive, and, finally, this copy is in remarkable condition considering its age.

And what’s in the book? The Bay Psalm Book is a psalter, a book of psalms. Psalters can be illuminated with miniatures and decorated initials, and psalters, also known as psalteriums, have been produced since medieval times. Most branches of Christianity have their own versions of psalters.

Over the centuries, there have been many famous psalters such as

The Canterbury Psalter

The St Albans Psalter

The Psalterium Romanum


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