5 Fascinating Rare Books (And How Much They Sold For)

examining a rare medieval manuscript

5 Fascinating Rare Books (And How Much They Sold For)

The world of rare books is full of exciting pieces of history that are incredible, even if you are not in the business of selling rare books. Great works of literature have been used to transport people to different places and times since the first book was written and published. With all the beautiful history rare books bring to the table, it is no surprise that some of them can be sold for incredible amounts of money.

Shakespeare’s First Folio

In the world of English-speaking people, there is no author more celebrated than William Shakespeare. His plays are valuable in modern culture even beyond the English-speaking world. One of the most expensive rare books ever sold is Shakespeare’s First Folio. This folio contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays that were gathered by his associates and printed from 1622 to 1623. There were only 750 copies printed, and given the time since their printing, not many in good condition are still surviving. In 2020, this folio was sold to rare book buyers for almost ten million dollars.

The Gutenberg Bible

The most famous book in the world is very likely the Bible, and the Gutenberg Bible is one of the rarest and most famous copies of the Bible in existence. This Bible version was the first to be printed on a printing press, which only adds to its value and status as a rare book. The book was not bound initially after printing, so buyers could have it bound in a way they preferred. There are only 48 copies still in existence, and they are costly. A single leaf of the Gutenberg Bible was sold for $74,000 in 2007. As one of the most wanted rare books, the Gutenberg Bible will likely continue increasing in price over the coming years.

Birds of America

When you are looking into rare books’ value, there are a lot of factors that can impact the selling price. Birds of America received its rare status and expense because of the unique way it was created and distributed. Rather than being published in a single volume, The Birds of North America was sent out to subscribers one bird at a time. These stunning prints of birds were beautifully illustrated. The pages were sent out over ten years, making the completed book challenging to come by in the modern era. This completed book sells for up to twelve million dollars when it is in good condition.

Don Quixote

Don Quixote De La Manche is a classic book that has a rich history. And the book itself is pretty rare and worth a fortune in the modern market. Valuable first edition books like Don Quixote are often challenging to find, especially decades or even centuries after they were printed. While you can still find newly printed versions of this classic tale, the first edition generally sells for over a million dollars.

On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres

Scientific books tend to be incredibly expensive to print, mainly when they include proper illustrations and good quality paper stock. The title, On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, is no exception. This book is essential because it is the book that documents the scientific shift toward recognizing the sun as the center of the solar system. Since only as many as 260 copies of this first edition book are still in existence, each copy tends to sell for at least a million to two million dollars. Many consider this book one of the most exciting vintage books worth money.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Most people think rare books are ancient, and a lot of the time, that is true. But some rare books were printed for the first time much more recently. The Tales of Beedle the Bard is one such example of a newer book that is both rare and valuable. While many standard versions of this book were printed and remain in print, additional special edition copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are pretty rare. Only seven copies of the Moonstone edition of this J.K. Rowling book were printed. These books were handmade, and one copy was sold at a charity auction for around three million dollars.

The Wycliffe New Testament

While the Gutenberg Bible has already received attention on this list, it is not the only version of The Bible that has seen great value as a rare book. The Wycliffe Bible is a collection of various translations of the Bible done by John Wycliffe. It is a unique book made up of beautiful text and illustrations printed on vellum. This version of the Bible was a big part of many religious changes within Christianity. Additionally, the Wycliffe Bible has sold for around two million dollars, making it a great example of rare books worth money.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the most famous children’s books ever written. This book remains in print, but the first editions are incredibly rare. There are only around 20 copies of this book in existence. This means that the copies, when sold, tend to sell for about two to three million dollars. These books are a beautiful addition to any rare book collection and are highly sought after by rare book collectors.

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1 is an excellent comic book responsible for the continued trend of superheroes in comics and movies. These comics are from 1938 and include the first-ever comic with superman. Not many of these original versions are still available, and these comics can sell for over three million dollars. Vintage book values can vary greatly depending on their rarity and the book’s quality.

The Canterbury Tales

The final book on this list is a classic, The Canterbury Tales. A first edition of this Chaucer book was sold for almost thirteen million dollars in 1998. Only about a dozen of these books are left in the world, so the value will likely continue to climb for well-taken care of copies. With a book this expensive in your hands, you have to know where to sell first edition books to get the best possible price. Working with a rare bookseller can help you find the right person for your book.

If you are interested in rare books, or if you have a rare book that you would like to sell, then please do not delay. Contact us today via our website here.