Bay Psalm Book is most valuable printed book at $14.2m

The Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever printed in the US, has sold at Sotheby's New York for a new world record sum.

Bay Psalms Book
The Bay Psalm Book is an accurate translation of the original Hebrew psalms into English

The book crossed the block on November 26 in a dedicated sale, with American investment manager and philanthropist David Rubenstein paying $14.2m. It is now the most valuable printed book ever sold at auction.

The previous record was held by John James Audubon's Birds of America, which sold for £7.3m ($11.5m) at Sotheby's in 2010.

Printed in 1640, this is one of 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book known to have survived. It was originally intended to provide an accurate translation of the original Hebrew psalms into English, with the early American Puritans believing that paraphrased psalms would hamper their salvation.

Around 1,700 copies were printed on a press delivered from London.

The present example was consigned to auction by Boston's Old South Church, which was founded in 1669 and counts Samuel Adams and Bejamin Franklin among its former members. Having previously owned five different copies of the Bay Psalm Book, the church made the decision to sell in order to fund other projects.

It now retains just one.

The last example of the book to appear at auction sold for $151,000 in 1947.

David Rubenstein has announced that he plans to loan the precious book to libraries and museum across the US.

The Bay Psalm Book did not surpass the record for any book at auction, which is held by Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester that sold to Bill Gates for $30m in 1994.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has some wonderful rare manuscripts for sale, including a scarce copy of the Declaration of Independence.


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