7 Of The Most Expensive Books Ever Sold


Most Expensive Books

Even in a world where tablet computers and smart phones are taking the place of books, most households still have enough books to fill a bookshelf or two. Mom's old cookbook, Grandpa's old Bible or even a favorite childhood book may still be cherished family memories. Even in a world where books are losing popularity, to collectors, they're still fetching big dollars. Here's a list of the most expensive books sold.

Traité Des Arbres Fruitiers

The "Treatise on Fruit Trees" is a five volume set written in 1750. It contains illustrations and descriptions of sixteen different varieties of fruit trees. With a 2006 purchase price of $4.5 million, it has the distinction of being the most expensive book about fruit trees ever sold.

The Gutenberg Bible

There are 48 Gutenberg Bibles left of the original 180 believed to have been produced. They were printed in 1456 and were the first books produced with moveable type. A copy sold in 1987 for $4.9 million at Christie's New York.

First Folio

This book, a collection of William Shakespeare's plays, was published after his death in 1623. Seven hundred and fifty copies were published, but only 228 survived. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen purchased a copy for around $6.1 million in 2001.

The Canterbury Tales

There are only 12 known first edition copies left since its publishing in 1477, and only one is in a private collection. The book was originally purchased in 1776 and not sold again until 1998 with a purchase price of $7.5 million by Christie's of London.

Birds Of America

This three and a half foot tall book depicts 400 life size North American bird species known to the Audubon Society in the 19th century. Only 200 complete first editions were produced, and 120 exist today. In 2010, one was sold for $11.5 million, but a 2012 copy sold for only $7.9 million.

The Gospels Of Henry The Lion

Commissioned by Henry the Lion for the alter of the Virgin Mary at Brunswick Cathedral, the German government purchased this 266 page book in 1983 for $11.7 million.

The Codex Leicester

Da Vinci wasn't only an artist, but also a scientist. This 72 page notebook is a handwritten journal chronicling his thoughts on everything from fossils to what makes the moon glow. Microsoft founder Bill Gates purchased the book for $30.8 million and had it scanned to use as a screensaver for Windows 95.


These books not only have important historical value, but they are worth a lot of money today as well. Many have sold at auction for record prices and they continue to go up in value. From the Gutenberg Bible, which marks the first use of moveable type, to the Codex Leicester, which was purchased by Bill Gates, these books have earned their places in history.

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