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First book printed in America fetches $14.2 million at auction

Nov. 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The "Bay Psalm Book," the first book printed in America, sold for a world record $14.2 million Tuesday at auction in New York, Sotheby's said.

American businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein's bid is the most paid for any printed book, the auction house said in a release posted on its website.

The book, which had been owned by the Old South Church in Boston, is one of 1,700 first-edition copies of "Bay Psalm Book" printed in Cambridge, Mass., in 1640 and one of just 11 copies known to still exist.

It is to go on exhibit in libraries across the United States, Sotheby's said.

Nancy S. Taylor, senior minister and chief executive officer of Old South Church, said the sale means the church "has millions of reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving."

"We have re-acquainted America with this amazing book and its extraordinary story," she said. "And we have turned it into fuel for our ministries -- from homelessness to housing, from youth violence prevention to elder care, from food insecurity to public education. We are delighted."

The previous record for a printed book was a copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America," which sold for $11.5 million at an auction in December 2010.

The last time a copy of "Bay Psalm Book" came up for auction was in 1947 when it sold for a record $151,000, Sotheby's said.

"We are thrilled that this book, which is so important to our history and culture, is destined to be widely seen by Americans who can appreciate its singular significance," said David Redden, director of special projects and worldwide chairman of Sotheby's books department. "We are, of course, also thrilled to have achieved a new world auction record price for any printed book, which affirms that books remain a vital part of our culture."

Topics: John James
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