17th century Wicked Bible auctions for $47,500

A rare copy of the 17th century "Wicked Bible" has sold for £31,250 ($47,477) at Bonhams.

It was among the headline lots of today's rare books and manuscripts auction in London, beating an estimate of £15,000 ($22,789) by 108.3%.

Wicked Bible Bonhams
The 'Wicked Bible' displays an unfortunate error

The book, printed by Robert Barker and David Lucas in 1631, derives its name from an error that appears in the Ten Commandments.

Rather than "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" it reads "Thou Shalt Commit Adultery".

It took around a year for the mistake to come to light. An enraged King Charles ordered every copy to be burned (hence its rarity today) and the offending printers hauled before the courts.

Barker and Lucas were given a huge fine and banned from printing anything ever again.

It's been posited by historians that the mistake may have been deliberately inserted by a rival printer named Bonham Norton as an act of professional sabotage.

A pair of letters sent from Ian Fleming to a James Bond fan also sold well, achieving £3,500 ($5,317) apiece.

One includes an assurance that the superspy will be back after his poisoning at the end of From Russia with Love.

He writes: "For your confidential information, the following bulletin was recently placed on the canteen notice board of the headquarters of the secret service at Regent's Park: 'After a period of anxiety the condition of No. 007 shows definitive improvement.

"'It has been confirmed that 007 was suffering from severe Fugu poisoning (a particularly virulent member of the curare group obtained from the sex glands of the Japanese Globe fish).

"'This diagnosis, for which the Research Department of the School of Tropical Medicine was responsible, has determined a course of treatment which is proving successful.'"

Please sign up to our free newsletter to receive exciting news about book and manuscript auctions.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock