Skip to content


The E-Sylum (11/17/2013)

Book Content

Tom Fort writes:

While it is not a numismatic work, nevertheless, I thought that this article about what may be the world's most expensive book would be of interest to readers.

Thanks. Tom forwarded a new article from the New York Times about the upcoming sale of a Bay Psalm book, the earliest book printed in what is now the USA. Here's an excerpt and link. -Editor

Bay Psalm book David N. Redden recited the opening of the 23rd Psalm the way he had memorized it as a child: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

Then he opened a weathered little book and read the version it contained: “The Lord to mee a ∫hepheard is, want therefore ∫hall not I. Hee in the fold∫ of tender-gra∫∫e, doth cau∫e mee downe to lie.”

Those lines were in a volume published in Massachusetts in 1640 that amounted to the Puritans’ religious and cultural manifesto. It was the first book printed in the colonies, and the first book printed in English in the New World. The locksmith who ran the hand-operated press turned out roughly 1,700 copies. The one in Mr. Redden’s hands is one of only 11 known to exist.

Mr. Redden, who is the chairman of Sotheby’s books department and has auctioned copies of Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, among other historic and valuable documents, will sell that copy on Nov. 26. Sotheby’s expects it to go for $15 million to $30 million, which would make it the most expensive book ever sold at auction.

The sad part for bibliophiles and researchers is that the book is being sold by the Old South Church in Boston, where Benjamin Franklin was baptized. The church’s historian, Jeff D. Makholm, resigned in January saying that auctioning the Bay Psalm Book to pay for work on the church’s building would “break the hearts” of members’ forebears.. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Let Bidding Begin for the Bay Psalm Book From 1640 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 1640 BAY PSALM BOOK TO BE AUCTIONED (

(or call 800-546-2995).
NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.