10 Most Valuable Books in the World

If you thought buying textbooks for your college classes cost too much, then take a look at the prices attached to these books, some of the most valuable in the world. From the first book ever printed to the most valuable comic book to the children’s picture book worth the most money, check out these ten books that will bring a pretty penny to anyone lucky enough to have one in their collection.

  1. The Gutenberg Bible. In 1456, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book ever printed with moveable type. About 180 versions are believed to have been printed originally. Many of the remaining Bibles have been broken down into sections. Only 21 are believed to be completely intact. A fully-intact Gutenberg Bible is valued at $25-35 million.
  2. Codex Leicester. This 72-page notebook contains the scientific writings and sketches of Leonardo da Vinci. In 1717, Thomas Coke, who was named the Earl of Leicester, bought the notebook. It was bought from the Leicester estate in 1980 and renamed Codex Hammer, after the art collector who purchased it. In 1994, Bill Gates purchased the notebook for $30.8 million and renamed it Codex Leicester. Gates’ purchase of this notebook made it the most expensive book ever sold.
  3. First Folio. The first edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623, is widely considered one of the most important books in the world. This first published work by Shakespeare contained 36 of his plays and was 900 pages long and was published seven years after Shakespeare died. In 2008, a British man was accused of stealing one of the 228 remaining copies of the First Folio, that copy’s worth being estimated at £15 million, or about $22.6 million.
  4. Birds of America. This book by John James Audubon contains scientific descriptions and illustrations of native birds of North America set in their natural surroundings. The book was published between 1827 and 1838 by a British publisher and was well-received. In March of 2000, one of the last 120 remaining copies was sold for $8.8 million to Sheikh Saud of Qatar, making it the most expensive printed book sold.
  5. Traité des Arbres Fruitiers. Translated to "Treatise on Fruit Trees," this book was published in 1768 and was the most successful work by French botanist Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau. The book detailed 16 different fruit species as well as multiple varieties and accompanying illustrations. It went to auction in Brussels in 2006 where it sold for 3,360,000 euros, or about $4.5 million, at that time.
  6. Geographia. Ptolemy’s Geographia was a compilation of cartography as it was known in the 2nd century. In 1477 these maps were printed in what was the first atlas. In 2006, one of only two known to exist in private ownership was sold at auction for $3.9 million dollars. It was previously owned by Lord Wardington, a British map and atlas collector, who died in 2005.
  7. Mercator’s Atlas of Europe. Gerardus Mercator was a Flemish cartographer who created the cylindrical world map projection that is still used today. In 1967, a Dutch schoolmaster on vacation in Belgium discovered a stack of old maps bound in folio style. They were later determined to be Mercator’s maps of Europe from the 1500s. In 1979, Sotheby’s sold this atlas to the British Rail Pension Fund, then it was later sold to the British Library in May of 1997 for a reported $1,243,000.
  8. Tamerlane and Other Poems. This was the first book written by Edgar Allan Poe and was published anonymously with the author named as only "a Bostonian." The book of poems was said to be written when Poe was only 14 years old. In December of 2009, a copy of this rare book (one of only 12 known) was sold at Christie’s auction house for $662,500, making it the most valuable piece of American literature ever sold.
  9. Action Comics #1. Published in June of 1938, this comic book introduced Superman, considered to the be first superhero, to the world. In February 2010, a copy of this rare comic book sold from an anonymous seller to an anonymous buyer for $1 million dollars, making it the most valuable comic book in the world.
  10. Where the Wild Things Are. This 1963 first edition of Maurice Sendak’s popular children’s book is estimated to be worth $10,200, if it is in excellent condition and has the original dust jacket. As far as children’s picture books are concerned, this is the most valuable one, with the next closest being And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, a 1938 first edition by Dr. Seuss worth $8,400.

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