Bay Psalm Book, First Book Printed In America, Sells For $14.2 Million At Sotheby's Auction In New York

 @AndrewBerry1
on November 27 2013 4:40 PM
Bay_Psalm_Book_LoC
The Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever printed in America, sold for $14.2 million at auction. Wikimedia Commons

The Bay Psalm Book -- the very first book ever printed in America -- sold Tuesday for $14.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. According to MSN, one of the 11 surviving copies of the book was purchased by David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group LP.

As MSN reports, Rubenstein will loan his copy of the Bay Psalm book to libraries across the United States before it will be put on long-term loan at one of them.

"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, 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."

As CNN points out, the first edition of the Bay Psalm Book was printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Mass. Out of the 1,700 original versions, 11 remain. They are housed at various institutions around the country, including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, the New York Public Library and the Huntington Library in California.

The book that sold for $14.2 million is from the collection of the Old South Church in Boston, CNN said. The church, which had the book for more than 300 years, will use the money from the sale to support its mission in Boston.

According to CNN, the book was created by Puritans in Massachusetts Bay who wanted to produce a version of the Book of Psalms that adhered more to the original Hebrew version than the one from England.

"This little book of 1640 was a precursor to Lexington and Concord, and, ultimately, to American political independence," Redden said. "With it, New England declared its independence from the Church of England."

"It's so very valuable because it is the beginning of Western civilization in our country," Redden added. "In fact, it is the first poetry in America -- it's as simple as that."

Share this article

More News from IBT MEDIA