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November 5, 2016updated Jan 25, 2017

World’s Most Expensive Books

By Chris Boyle

By Codelia Mantsebo

Some of the most valuable books have fetched more than $10 million at auctions. From historical documents, novels and journals, each piece of literature tells a different story and paints a picture of history that makes them valuable.

Elite Traveler takes a look at the most expensive books, some dating back to the fifteenth century.

Codex Leicester Leonardo da Vinci

codexThe Codex Leicester was sold to Bill Gates at Christie’s auction house on 11 November 1994 in New York for $30,802,500.
The book is a collection of famous scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci.

The Codex is named after Thomas Coke, later created Earl of Leicester, who purchased it in 1719. Of Leonardo’s 30 scientific journals, the Codex may be the most famous of all.

Bay Psalm Book


Image Credit: Sotheby’s

The first book printed in what is now the United States of America, the Bay Psalm Book, was sold at auction for $14,165,000.

The rare book, which is a translation of the biblical psalms by the Puritans published in 1640, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in November 2013. It is one of only eleven surviving copies.

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Birds of America by John James Audubon

Image Credit: Sotheby’s

Image Credit: Sotheby’s

In December 2010, a complete copy of the first edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America sold for $11.5 million at Sotheby’s London.The four-volume book illustrates more than 400 life-size North American species.

London-based art dealer Michael Tollemache placed the winning bid, outbidding three others during the auction.

Other copies of the early-nineteenth century book have sold for $7.9 million and $8.8 million.

The Gutenberg Bible 


Image Credit: GFDL

The last sale of a complete Gutenberg Bible took place in 1978, which sold for $2.2 million. This copy is now in Stuttgart. None of the 21 surviving copies of this historical work have been purchased since.

The price of a complete copy today is estimated at $25−35 million.

St. Cuthbert Gospel

Image Credit: British Library

Image Credit: British Library

Sold for $15.1 million in 2011, The St Cuthbert Gospel (formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel) retains its original binding and is the oldest intact European book. Made in the early 8th century, the manuscript contains a copy of the Gospel of John.

The Jesuits sold this 7th-century work–interred alongside St. Cuthbert in 698 and unearthed in 1104–to the British Library.

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