10 Most Expensive Books And Manuscripts Ever Sold

When one thinks about the rarest and most expensive collectibles that a collector of fine art could buy, you might not think that books and manuscripts would hold impressive price tags.

However, when you’re talking about an original copy of the Magna Carter or Leonardo da Vinci’s diary, prices can jump well into the millions of dollars.

the following are the 10 most expensive books and manuscripts ever sold.

10. “Washington’s Acts of Congress” — George Washington’s personal notes (1789)

The Washington Family, George Washington (left), Martha Washington (right), lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1867

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What was George Washington’s copy of the Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America, Set a world auction record for any American book or historical document.

Price: $9.8 Million ($10.4 Million today)
Sold: June 2012

9. “The Birds of America” — John James Audubon (1827–1838)

John James Audubon painting on display inside of a museum

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“The Birds of America” is an illustrated book by naturalist and artist John James Audubon, containing illustrations several varieties of birds of the United States. The book consists of 435 hand-colored prints of birds made from engraved plates.

Price: $8.8 Million ($12.5 Million today)
Sold: 2000

8. “The Birds of America” — John James Audubon (1827–1838)

John James Audubon painting on american postage stamp

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Another one of the 119 complete of copies of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” known to exist.

Price: $11.5 Million ($12.9 Million today)
Sold: December 2010

7. “Gospels of Henry the Lion” — Order of Saint Benedict (1175)

Evangeliar Heinrichs des Löwen Medieval Codex

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Price: $11.7 Million ($28.7 Million today)
Sold: December 1983

6. “Rothschild Prayerbook” (a.k.a. Rothschild Hours) — (circa 1500-1520)

Since its sale in 1999 to an Australian businessman, it has held the world record price at auction for a color illustrated mamnuscript.

Price: $13.4 Million ($19.7 Million today)
Sold: July 1999

5. “Bay Psalm Book” — Author Unknown (1640)

The “Bay Psalm Book” is the first book ever printed in the territory of what is now The United States of America.

Price: $14.2 Million ($14.9 Million today)
Sold: November 2013

4. “St Cuthbert Gospel” — Author Unknown (7th century)

Price: $14.3 Million ($15.2 Million today)
Sold: April 2012

3. Magna Carta — Author Unknown (1297)

Magna Carta Libertatum, is an English legal charter that required King John of England to proclaim certain rights, respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law.

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Price: $21.3 Million ($25.1 Million today)
Sold: December 2007

2. Leonardo da Vinci — “Codex Leicester” Original and only copy of the notebook (1500s)

Price: $30.8 Million ($50.9 Million today)
Sold: November 1994

1. Joseph Smith — “Book of Mormon” (1830)

JANUARY 2005 - Interior of home of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormon Church in Palmyra, NY

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Price: $35.0 Million
Sold: September 2017

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