First Printed Book in America Expected to Fetch Up to $30M in Auction

A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first printed book before there was even a United States, will head to auction in late December where it is expected to fetch anywhere between $15 million to $30 million.

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A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in what is now the USA in 1640 and is considered the world’s most valuable book, with an auction estimate of $15 to $30 million is previewed in New York on April 12, 2013.

A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first printed book in the land that would eventually become the United States of America, will head to auction in late November where it is expected to fetch anywhere between $15 million to $30 million.

The Bay Psalm Book is one of eleven surviving copies of the tome and is one of the world’s most valuable books. It was originally printed in 1640. The copy going for auction belongs to Boston’s Old South Church, which has two copies in its possession. The Times reports that it is being sold in order to fund maintenance and public outreach for the church’s program.

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Before auctioneers plan to put the book up for sale on November 26, the book will make the rounds to Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas for public exhibition. The book was also previously displayed last weekend at Sotheby’s in New York. According to the Times:

The Bay Psalm Book, printed in an original edition of 1,700 in Cambridge in 1640 by Stephen Daye, was intended as a closer paraphrase of the Hebrew original than the one the Puritans brought from England, and was quickly adopted by nearly every congregation in Massachusetts.

The book last appeared in auction back in 1947, when a copy sold for a record-breaking $151,000. According to the BBC, adjusted for inflation, that figure would roughly approximate about $1.56 million.

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“It is a mythical rarity,” David Redden, the chairman of Sotheby’s books department, said in a statement. “Yet here it is today, this modest little book printed in the American wilderness but embodying the values that created our nation: political freedom and religious liberty.”


The First Printed Book in America was "Escala Espiritual”, printed in Mexico City in 1533.


@TIME @TIMENewsFeed and there are still people starving in the world. Folly of the super rich celebrated by the media.


@TerenceMonro @TIME Not sure the first iPad or Kindle will fetch that kind of price... but then "more money than sense" comes into play ;-)


@TIME @TIMENewsFeed The first book was printed in 1973. Titled "A Guide to Book-Making," it set the stage for all future publications.