Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni Luxury Magazine

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26 APR 2018 Published in:


Many years ago, when the internet and other modern means of communication were still to be conceived and invented, books were the only means of reading about literature, science and religion.
Today we are so used to having an entire encyclopedia on a couple of DVDs or even online that we have forgotten about those books that have brought us so much wisdom and that today are so old and obsolete they are often priceless treasures, especially if unique or lost.

Those that we will list here today are the rarest and most expensive books in the world, and it seems the older they are, the greater their value.


In first place, it could obviously not be anything other than the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed using movable type in 1456, of which about 1,800 copies were produced, many of which have since been lost or damaged. In fact, it has been estimated that perhaps twenty copies are still intact, each valued at around 30 million dollars.

The world’s second most expensive book is the Codex Leicester, a book of only 72 pages which brings together scientific writings and sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci and has changed name as it has changed hands from one collector to another. The book was first bought in 1717 by Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester, then passed on to another owner in 1980, who renamed it Codex Hammer, until finally, in 1994, it was bought by one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, for 30.8 million dollars. It was Gates himself who renamed it the Codex Leicester.

Also extremely prized and valuable is the first edition of Shakespeare's works, published in 1623. The volume, made up of 36 works, was published some years after the writer's death, and it is believed there are some 228 copies left in the world. In 2008, a man was charged with stealing one of these copies, whose value range between 15 and 22 million dollars.

In fourth place, we find a book that collects scientific descriptions and illustrations of birds of North America, not coincidentally entitled Birds of America, which was published between 1827 and 1838. One of the 120 remaining copies was sold in 2000 for 8.8 million dollars to Sheikh Saud of Qatar.

Next comes Traité des Arbres Fruitiers [Treatise on Fruit Trees], published in 1768 by the botanist Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau. One copy of the book, which offers a wide range of detailed illustrations of various fruit trees, was auctioned in 2006 for 3,360 euros.

Geographia is made up of a series of maps collected by Ptolemy which date back to the second century. One of the few available copies was sold for 3.9 million dollars in 2006.

In seventh place comes the Atlas of Europe by Gerardus Mercatore, a well-known Flemish cartographer, whose maps were found in 1967 by a German teacher on holiday in Belgium. The volume was sold in 1997 for 1,243 dollars.

Tamerlane and Other Poems is the first book written by Edgar Allan Poe, seemingly penned by the author at the tender age of 14. A copy was sold by Christie's auction house in 2009 for 662,500 dollars.

The list of the most valuable books on the planet even includes a comic. Action Comics #1, published in 1938, marked the debut of a rather successful character - Superman. The comic was sold to a buyer, who has decided to remain anonymous, for one million dollars.

In tenth place, we find Where the Wild Things Are, with the very first edition of Maurice Sendak's books, whose publication is fairly recent (1963), being the most expensive children's book in history at over 10,000 dollars.

Words may not often mean much, but in some cases, especially when written by famous writers or scientists, they can be worth millions of dollars.

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