Friday, September 10

Birds of America Book Auction

Most Expensive Book in the World - Birds of America Book Sells for Record $11.5 million

UPDATE : The 19th-century illustrated “Birds of America” book was sold at auction in London tonight for $11.5 million, the highest price ever for any printed work.

The book was bought by London art dealer Michael Tollemache, “I think it’s priceless, don’t you?” he said - well yes but I didn't have $12 million lying around.

Birds of America John James Audubon
John James Audubon's "Birds of America" which gets top billing as the world's most expensive book, is to be auctioned by Sotheby's alongside a first edition of Shakespeare's plays.

There are only 119 copies in existence of "Birds of America" and the book is valued at between $6.2 million and $9.2 million. A Shakespeare First Folio from 1623 is expected to fetch at least $1.5 million.

Sotheby's describe the two books as "the twin peaks of book collecting." They come from the estate of the 2nd Baron Hesketh, an aristocrat and book collector who died in 1955. They will be sold by Sotheby's at their auction house in London on December 7.

A copy of "Birds of America" was sold back in 2000 by Christie's for $8.8 million, whichmade it the most expensive book in the world at auction. This goes to show the value of first edition books ! Unfortunately not all first editions are worth millions, and there can by definition be only one most expensive book in the world, but buying modern first edition books is an interesting way of speculating with small amounts of money. First edition books by Angie Sage for example - see Magyk First Edition Books - could be bought for $30 a couple of years ago, now they are likely to fetch $200 or more, as her books have become best-sellers and a Warner Bros. film is on its way to replace the Harry Potter series which will be ending soon.

"Birds of America" by John James Audubon is one of the most beautiful and important published works of natural history, and is rarely sold. All but a handful of the books are in museums, universities and libraries.

The book is not only the world's most expensive book it also exceptional due to the fact that it measures 2 feet by 3 feet, as Audubon wanted to paint the birds life size ! It comprises a collection of 435 hand-colored prints, made from engravings of Audubon's illustrations.

Sotheby's said "Audubon himself described the size as a 'double elephant' folio."

Audubon originally sold the book by subscription to wealthy collectors. The copy that is being auctioned by Sotheby's is numbered No. 11, and was originally purchased by paleontologist Henry Witham.

So if you are looking for a Christmas present with a difference and you have a few million dollars to invest then make a date with the auction on December 7 - it might feel nice to own the most expensive book in the world !

Home : First Edition Books

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