The Most Expensive Books In The World - A List Of Rare And Valuable Books

4 April 2024 Written by Staff Writer

This one is for all of you bookworms out there who love to absorb knowledge and stories like a sponge. The beautiful art of storytelling through printed work has been practiced by humans for thousands of years and in this article we will be diving into the most expensive books in the world! We will be taking a look at some of the ancient books of history that survived, who published these works of art, and how they got their wallet burning price tag.

Like most antiques, a book's value only becomes better with time and there’s a handful of ancient books out there that hold a hefty fee in the present time if you desire to take it home to be displayed on your bookshelf. You may also find yourself finishing this article and heading straight to your attic or basement and scouring the boxes and shelves to see if you have been in possession of an extremely rare or valuable book the entire time that could make you instantly rich!

1. First Folio - William Shakespeare - $6.1 Million (Rarest Book In The World)

 First Folio - William Shakespeare - $6.1 Million (Rarest Book In The World)

Ranked as one of the most influential books in the world, this masterpiece was originally dubbed with the title: Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies but it soon became popular amongst scholars to refer to its now shorter title: First Folio.

The book was published in 1623 and is 900 pages long. From 1716 it was called Dr. Williams's Library in London home for many many years until it was finally sold off to London dealer Simon Finch Rare Books in 2006.

2. The Tales Of Beedle The Bard - $3.98 Million (Most Valuable Book In The World)

The Tales Of Beedle The Bard - $3.98 Million (Most Valuable Book In The World)

This may not be an ancient book by any means but it's a book that deserves to be on this list for sure. If you’re a Harry Potter fan then you may find the title of this book rings a bell and you've heard it being referenced in Deathly Hallows but if you’re a die-hard Potterhead then you may know that this book exists in the real world and J.K Rowling only made seven copies in total and each one of them were handwritten and illustrated by her.

The book was eventually turned into paperback for everyone to read but the original 7 copies became a valuable prize. She went on to gift 6 of the copies to friends and editors and then in 2007 the 7th copy was put up for auction to raise funds for her charity The Children’s Voice campaign, Lumos.

The prized possession was nabbed up at the auction by Amazon for a whopping $3.98 million and broke a new world record for the most expensive modern manuscript to be sold at an auction.

3. Birds Of America - $11.5 Million (One Of The Most Expensive Books In The World)
Birds Of America - $11.5 Million (One Of The Most Expensive Books In The World)

This book contains 435 hand painted life sized prints made from engraved plates of the different birds you can find in the United States, and a few that are now extinct. It was written and illustrated by writer and naturalist painter John James Audabon who declared his intention in 1820 to paint every bird in North America. Published in 1827-1838 the enormous 435 illustrated plates are 90 by 67 centimeters in size and are bound into four volumes. Because of its size it of course weighs a ton, a whopping 25 kilograms to be exact.

When creating the masterpiece John had some help with the illustrations of the plant life backgrounds of the book from Joseph Mason, his assistant and John Kirk Townsend collected and sent Audebon some of the specimens he illustrated during an expedition he went on in 1834.

There are 120 original copies of The Birds Of America and the Heirs of the Fourth Duke of Portland made one of the largest sales from the book at Christie’s in New York. It was purchased by an American collector for $7.9 million. However in 2010 one of the complete first editions was auctioned off at Sotheby’s in London for a hair raising total of $11.5 million!

4. The Codex Leicester - $30.8 Million (Most Expensive Book Ever Sold)
The Codex Leicester - $30.8 Million (Most Expensive Book Ever Sold)

The Codex Leicester must be one of the most valuable notebooks in the world. It is the notebook of none other than Leonardo da Vinci and contains a collection of handwritten scientific writings, observations, and theories about a few different topics such as the explanation of why fossils of sea creatures can be found in the mountains, the movement of water and the luminosity of the moon. The notebook was leather-bound but its pages are now displayed separately and it includes exceptional illustrations by the artist showing the link between art and science.

It was first purchased in 1717 by Thomas Coke who later on became the 1st Earl of Leicester and therefore influenced the name we know now. Armand Hammer was the owner of the notebook after Earl and briefly renamed it, Codex Hammer. From 1980 the notebook stayed in Hammers' possession for 14 years and then in 1994 it was nabbed at auction by Bill Gates for a jaw-dropping $30.8 million!

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