A copy of the Bay Psalm Book from 1640 believed to be the first book ever printed in the U.S. goes under the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction on Nov. 26 in New York, where expected to fetch $30 million and become world’s most expensive book.
“It’s going to be far and away the most expensive book ever sold,” David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby’s auction house.
This rare psalm book is one of only 11 survived copies (in 1640 Puritan settlers made only about 1,700 copies of The Bay Psalm Book) is owned by the Old South Church in Boston. Church elders who owns two copies of the book have decided to auction one off to finance building repairs and the church’s mission.
At one time, the church owned five copies of the 6-by-5-inch hymnal. One is now at the Library of Congress, another at Yale University and a third at Brown University.
Sotheby’s specialists used comparables to value the book. “We have sold books as much as $11.5 million in the past, which are far less rare than this,” Redden said.
The book will be on display at Sotheby’s in New York until Sunday.
The last time a copy of The Bay Psalm Book was sold publicly it was purchased by Yale University in 1947 for $151,000.