Books are an important part of every society that has existed up until now. They helped people become educated, learn, entertain themselves, and so many other uses. We’d love to talk about books with you today. But first, let’s try to answer the most critical question about books: what is the most expensive book ever?
The Codex Leicester is the most expensive book in the world. The 72-page manuscript was written by Leonardo da Vinci in the early 16th century and offered for sale at Christie’s auction house in 1994. It was purchased by Bill Gates, who later renamed it “Codex Leicester” after Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester, bought the original from da Vinci’s heir in 1717.
The Codex Leicester is a collection of scientific writings covering water flow, astronomy, and fossils. Since its sale, it has been on display at museums around the world and has toured extensively in the U.S., including stops at the Seattle Art Museum (2005), Boston Museum of Science (2006), and the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (2006). Here’s a look at the most expensive book collection.
The Codex Leicester Book
The Codex Leicester Book is a 72-page notebook written by Leonardo da Vinci. In 1994, Bill Gates paid $30.8 million for the book and then renamed it the Codex Leicester after the Earl of Leicester, Thomas Coke, purchased the book in 1719. The book was sold again in 1994 to Armand Hammer, who later sold it back to Bill Gates in 1994.
In the Codex Leicester Book, Leonardo da Vinci attempted to explain how water interacts with land formations. This particular work is one of many notebooks that Leonardo da Vinci kept during his lifetime. As such, historians believe that this particular notebook was created between 1504 and 1510 when Leonardo da Vinci was in Florence and Rome.
The Book Of Mormon
The price tag is $40.1 million, and it’s for a single book: The Book of Mormon. And it isn’t just any edition of the book—it’s the first edition, printed in 1830. This particular edition is so expensive because it’s the only existing copy of the first edition, which was published in Palmyra, New York, in 1830 by Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. It’s one of just 6,000 copies that were printed in total, and all but this one have been lost to history.
The Book of Mormon is one of the most important documents in American history because it was considered to be a revelation from God by Joseph Smith. He claimed to have found golden plates containing writings from ancient civilizations. It details Smith’s version of Christianity with a focus on Jesus Christ, who they believe visited North America following his resurrection.
The Sherborne Missal Book
The Sherborne Missal is one of the rarest books in the world. The price paid for the book at auction, $33.7 million, makes it one of the most valuable books in the world. But why is the Sherborne Missal part of the most expensive book collection?
Sherborne’s Cathedral Library in Dorset, England, has been a cultural and intellectual center for centuries. It was founded by Saint Aldhelm in 705 AD, and through its long history, it has seen many important figures pass through. The library contains several ancient texts that are historically significant, including two medieval manuscripts created in the 13th century: The Sherborne Missal and The Floire et Blancheflor.
The Sherborne Missal manuscript is unique because it was created almost entirely by one person: Thomas Wykes, a priest who lived between 1250 and 1321. Teams made most manuscripts of people working together to produce them over the years. It is highly detailed and lavishly illustrated. It is considered one of the finest examples of a medieval manuscript and one of the most beautiful books ever created.
The Magna Carta Book
The first set of copies of the Magna Carta was printed in 1487. Only two of these books remain today, and one is going on sale at Sotheby’s auction house on December 4th, 2019. The book is expected to be sold for $28.9 million.
The book was printed by William Caxton, the first person in England to print a book on a printing press (and the first person to translate The Canterbury Tales into English).
Caxton’s first edition of the Magna Carta contains an introduction and commentary by 15th-century cleric John Fortescue. It was an attempt to make the document more accessible to ordinary people. The Magna Carta was initially signed in 1215 by King John I to prevent a civil war with England’s nobility. Historians consider it to be one of the most important documents in the history of democracy.
The St. Cuthbert Gospel Book
The St. Cuthbert Gospel Book is one of the oldest intact books globally, and it is worth $17.1 million. The book was written in 660 AD by an unknown scribe. Still, the book’s contents inspired many generations of people to follow the beliefs of Saint Cuthbert; a hermit monk of Lindisfarne Abbey who became a bishop during the 7th century. The manuscript contains text from both the Old and New Testaments and images illustrating the text.
It is widely believed that the book documented Saint Cuthbert’s life and death. According to legend, Saint Cuthbert’s monks at Lindisfarne Abbey buried him with his favorite books, including this Bible.
The St. Cuthbert Gospel Book remained undisturbed until 1104 AD, when Saint Cuthbert’s grave was opened for reburial. At that time, his body remained in a state of immaculate preservation; a miracle said to be proof of Saint Cuthbert’s holiness by those who reburied him with all his belongings.
The Rothschild Prayerbook
The Rothschild Prayerbook was sold by Christie’s auction house for $16.1 million in July 2015, making it part of the most expensive book collection. According to Christie’s, the book is one of only 28 surviving copies of a prayerbook commissioned by King Maximilian I in 1514. It is considered one of the most important books in the history of bookmaking.
The book is known as a “gem of Flemish Renaissance art,” containing nearly 200 pages with ornate gold designs and illustrations. In 1925, the New York Times described the Rothschild Prayerbook as a “manifestation of courtly splendor unparalleled even in that era when kings and nobles vied with each other in ostentatious display.”
The famous Rothschild dynasty owned the Rothschild Prayerbook from 1868 until 1999. Christie describes this particular copy as “the finest example among all known copies” of this work due to its “extraordinary condition.”
The early history of books is a murky subject, filled with conflicting accounts and anecdotes that it can be challenging to figure out what’s fact and fiction. There are a few rare books that have found their way into the public consciousness as some of the most expensive known to exist. Some of these books’ costs result from their fame; others derive their value from their physical attributes or rarity. However rare the book may be, there is always someone willing to acquire one for posterity (and at a price).
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