Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 Really Pricey Books

Stacy Conradt
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I have this fantasy that I am harboring a rare, insanely valuable first edition of some obscure book somewhere on my overstuffed bookshelves. I'll decide I don't need it someday and take it to trade in at Half Price Books and the overly-honest guy behind the counter will give me a look like I've lost my mind and say, "Are you crazy? Do you know what this is worth? There must be only five of these in the entire world!"
Yeah. It's not very likely to happen. But you can bet that I'm going to devote some time to combing through the den this weekend to see if I have any of these pricey pages in my possession.

firstfolio
firstfolio /

3. Cosmography, based on the work of Ptolemy, is a pretty rare find: there are only two known copies in the world (maybe one of them is in my den. No?). The 1477 book was worth $4 million the last time it was sold.

4. James Audubon's Birds of America sold for $8.8 million in 2000. Only 200 complete sets were ever issued, and most of them were broken up to sell individually, which is why a complete set is so valuable.

5. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. If you discover one of these in your hot little hands, consider yourself lucky "“ Christie's auction house in New York sold a signed first edition of the book for $229,000, making it the most valuable Dickens book ever.

Hobbits
Hobbits /

9. Moby Dick. At the same auction, an original version of Melville's whale tale in blue cloth binding went for $30,500. It's no Codex Leicester, but I'd say $30,500 is nothing to sneeze at.

ulysses
ulysses /

Do we have any book-collecting _flossers out there? I'm not one myself, but I'm thinking it might be a fine time to start.

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