World’s Most Expensive Book Up For Sale

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Ever felt bad for spending too much money on a book you know you’re probably never going to read? Chances are it’s nothing compared to John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which goes on sale at London’s Sotheby’s in December of this year.

Only 119 complete copies of the 19th century book are known to exist, with 108 of them owned by museums and libraries. Another edition sold for a record-breaking $8.8 million ten years ago, making it the most expensive book in the world.

The huge book contains 1,000 life-sized illustrations of almost 500 breeds of bird and took wildlife artist Audubon 12 years to complete. During his travels across America he would shoot the birds in question and hang them on bits of wire in order to paint them. Audubon was a good artist but also a clever salesman, managing to sell his book to the very rich, marketing it as a product that would bring them prestige.

Southeby’s have hailed the December sale as one of the most important auctions of books and manuscripts for many years. Along with Birds of America, there is also a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio to go up for sale, which Sotheby’s has described as “the most important book in all of English Literature.” Of the 750 that were probably printed, only 219 are known to exist today. The book dates from 1623 and is valued at $1.5 million.

So maybe $10 on another self-help book isn’t so bad after all. (via BBC)

-Frances Perraudin