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12 Most Expensive Books: Literary Treasures Worth Millions


Books have always held a significant place in our culture and history. While many books are priceless in terms of their literary value, some are literally worth millions. This article explores twelve of the most expensive books ever sold, each a treasure trove of history, art, and knowledge. These books are some of the most valuable in the world because they have been sold at unbelievably high prices.

1. The Codex Leicester – $30.8 Million

Leonardo da Vinci wrote many science papers that can be found in the Codex Leicester, also called the Codex Hammer. The most expensive book in the world is this manuscript, which Bill Gates paid $30.8 million for in 1994. It contains Da Vinci’s observations on water, the moon, fossils, and more, showcasing his incredible genius.

most expensive book in the world

2. Birds of America – $11.57 Million

Birds of America, written by John James Audubon, is a monumental work of ornithology and is renowned as the most expensive in the world. This book features life-sized illustrations of North American birds, each hand-painted and incredibly detailed. A copy was sold at Sotheby’s for $11.5 million in 2010, making it one of the most expensive books ever sold.

most expensive book ever sold

3. The Gutenberg Bible – $5.4 Million

The Gutenberg Bible is the first major book printed using movable type and is as one of the most expensive ever sold. Johannes Gutenberg produced it in the 1450s, and it is a landmark in the history of printing. A copy sold for $5.4 million in 1987, highlighting its significance and value.

most valuable book in the world

4. The First Folio – William Shakespeare – $6.1 Million

The First Folio of William Shakespeare, which came out in 1623, is a collection of his plays. This collection kept many of Shakespeare’s works alive that would have been lost otherwise. A copy was sold for $6.1 million in 2001, underscoring its importance and status as a literary treasure.

5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard – $3.97 Million

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, written by J.K. Rowling, is a unique book in this list and is famous for being one of the most expensive books ever sold. Rowling was the author of this handwritten and illustrated book. Amazon purchased one of the seven copies at auction for $3.97 million, making it one of the most valuable modern manuscripts.

6. The Book of Mormon (Printer’s Manuscript) – $35 Million

The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, which was sold for a staggering $35 million in 2017, joins the list of most expensive books. This manuscript is significant for the Latter-Day Saints community as it contains early versions of the text that formed the foundation of their faith.

7. The Rothschild Prayerbook – $13.6 Million

The Rothschild Prayerbook is a magnificent illuminated manuscript from the early 16th century. It featured elaborate illustrations and was used for private devotion. It sold for $13.6 million in 2014, reflecting its artistic and historical importance.

8. The St. Cuthbert Gospel – $14.3 Million

The St. Cuthbert Gospel, which is sometimes called the Stonyhurst Gospel, is one of the oldest books still in one piece in Europe. The British Library paid $14.3 million in 2012 for this well-preserved early 8th-century manuscript, which is of immense historical value from the early Christian era in Britain.

9. The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer – $7.5 Million

In 1998, the first copy of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales was sold for $7.5 million. The stories in this collection, which were written in Middle English, are important pieces of English writing. Its age and rarity contribute to its high value.

10. The Bay Psalm Book – $14.2 Million

In 1640, the Bay Psalm Book was the first book written in British North America. In 2013, a copy was bought for $14.2 million. It is very valuable because it is historically important as one of the first written books in the United States.

11. The Gospel of Henry the Lion – $11.7 Million

Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, commissioned an illuminated manuscript called the Gospel of Henry the Lion in the 12th century. This masterpiece of medieval art and religious devotion was sold for $11.7 million in 1983. It is considered one of the most important works of its kind, with intricate illustrations and ornate designs that reflect the artistic excellence of the time.

12. The Magna Carta – $21.3 Million

One of the original copies of the Magna Carta, a foundational document for English law and constitutional principles, was sold for $21.3 million in 2007. This document, dating back to 1215, is a symbol of liberty and the rule of law, making it one of the most valuable books in the world.

Most Expensive Books: The Fascination of Literary Treasures

The world of the most expensive books is a fascinating place where history, literature, and great value come together. These twelve books are some of the most expensive and valuable books ever sold. They give us a look into our past, showing the creativity, ingenuity, and historical importance that make them priceless. Whether it’s the scientific genius of Da Vinci, the poetic mastery of Shakespeare, or the early work of American printers, these books continue to captivate collectors and historians.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.