Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
04:19 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
30 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Books
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
World’s most expensive printed book sells for $14.2M
Agence France Presse
David Redden, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby's Books and Manuscripts department, displays a copy of "The Bay Psalm Book" at Sotheby's Auction House in New York, November 21, 2013.  (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
David Redden, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby's Books and Manuscripts department, displays a copy of "The Bay Psalm Book" at Sotheby's Auction House in New York, November 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
A+ A-

NEW YORK: The first book written in what is today the United States of America fetched $14.2 million in New York Tuesday, becoming the world’s most expensive printed book sold at auction. The translation of Biblical psalms “The Bay Psalm Book” was printed by Puritan settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640 and sold at a one-lot auction in just minutes by Sotheby’s. Bidding opened at $6 million and closed swiftly at a hammer price of $12.5 million, rising to $14.165 million once the buyer’s premium was incorporated.

The book, with its browning pages and gilt edges, was displayed in a glass case behind the auctioneer to a relatively small crowd which attended the less than five-minute auction in person.

The settlers, who came to America to seek religious freedom, had set about making their own preferred translation from the Hebrew original of the Old Testament book after arriving from Europe.

Sotheby’s named the buyer as David Rubenstein, the billionaire American financier and philanthropist. He was in Australia and his bid was conducted by telephone.

Sotheby’s had valued the book at $15-30 million, but denied any disappointment in the sale price reached Tuesday.

The world’s most expensive manuscript, the handwritten Codex Leicester, 72 pages of largely scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci, was bought by Bill Gates in 1994 for $30.8 million.

Sotheby’s said it was delighted to have set a new world record for any printed book at auction with the $14.165 million price tag.

The previous record was $11.5 million, reached when a copy of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” sold at Sotheby’s in December 2010.

“We’re very, very pleased about this purchase,” said David Redden, auctioneer and head of Sotheby’s books.

Rubenstein plans to share the psalm book with the American public by loaning it to a number of libraries around the country and placing it on longtime loan to one of them, Redden said.

“If you recall David Rubenstein also brought the Magna Carta from us back in 2007 for the same reason, to make sure Americans would understand the significance of their heritage,” he added.

The Magna Carta sold for $21.3 million in New York. It was one of only 17 existing copies of the 800-year-old English royal manuscript setting out the rights of man.

Redden said “The Bay Psalm Book” was a “great rarity” and that only two of 11 surviving copies had come to sale in 100 years.

He described the price as “very strong and hefty.”

“It’s very important because of its story. It’s the first book printed in America and the first book written in America,” Redden told reporters.

Before the sale, Redden said the volume had even greater significance as a precursor to Lexington and Concord, and, ultimately, to U.S. political independence.

“With it,” he said, “New England declared its independence from the Church of England.”

There were 1,700 copies of the original 1640 edition. The 11 that have survived are in collections such as The Library of Congress and Harvard College Library.

No copy had previously been auctioned since 1947, when a different copy fetched $151,000 – a record at the time for any book, including the Gutenberg Bible or Shakespeare’s First Folio.

The book was sold by the Old South Church in Boston to benefit its work in the historic city.

The same church possesses another copy of the “Bay Psalm Book.”

Selby Kiffer, from Sotheby’s special projects department, called it “not simply one of the great icons of book history, it is one of the greatest artifacts of American history.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 28, 2013, on page 16.
Home Books
 
     
 
United States of America
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Thursday April 24, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS