Gutenberg Bible pages auction for $970,000

Eight pages of a first edition Gutenberg Bible have sold in New York.

It far surpassed its $500,000-700,000 estimate at Sotheby's on June 19, selling for $970,000.

A book dealer removed the pages from the original in the 1920s

Produced in the early 1450s, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed in the western world using movable type.

Johannes Gutenberg, from modern day Germany, was the man behind the book and the process, which revolutionised printing.

Rebecca Rego Barry explained in Fine Books Magazine the importance of the eight pages.

"Single leaves of the famous 42-line Bible occasionally turn up at auction - one recently sold at Swann Galleries for $55,000 - but a complete copy hasn't been seen at auction since 1978, so this sizable section is estimated to make at least $500,000 for its consignor".

Sotheby's added prior to the sale: "Almost all subsequent printings of the Latin Bible in the fifteenth century and after descend from the Gutenberg Bible.

"No incunable had as pervasive a textual influence as the Gutenberg Bible, and even small typographical errors in its setting sometimes persisted for generations in later editions."

The pages come from one of 49 surviving copies of the first edition. A New York book dealer cut one of the books into segments and sold it off in the 1920s.

The Fine Books and Manuscripts, including Americana sale also featured the first book-form printing of the Declaration of Independence. Printed on July 8, 1776, four days after the declaration appeared as a broadside, it sold for $370,000.

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