Weekly Update – Rare Books


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Signed Parchment Copy of Declaration of Independence Sale Smashes Estimates

Freeman’s is auctioning a copy of Charles Carroll’s Declaration of Independence, estimated to bring in $500,000 to $800,000.

It’s one of two copies on parchment, which Carroll gave to his grandson-in-law John McTavish. The condition is listed as “original folds and light soiling… A beautiful and strong impression, with very large margins.”

Update: The final sales figure for Freeman’s offering of the Declaration of Independence was $4.4 Million, more than five times the pre-sale high estimate of $800,000. Woah.


Hemingway-Inscribed Copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls to be Sold

An advance copy of a first edition ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ will be sold at a Heritage Auction. Not only is the book a rare advance copy first edition, but it’s also inscribed by Ernest Hemingway himself.

Hemingway inscribed the book to Richard Watts, a longtime friend. The inscription says, “For Richard Watts, as a souvenir of reading so many papers, from his friend, Ernest Hemingway.”

The book is estimated to sell for $40,000, but final sale prices have recently been far above initial estimates for extremely rare copies such as this one.

Follow along during the auction at Heritage Auctions.


The Yale Beinecke Library Fire Suppression Myth

A viral tweet spreading through the internet like wildfire makes claims of an outrageous fire suppression system. Is it real or fake?

The Beinecke Library at Yale University holds some of the rarest and expensive books and manuscripts in the world. An original Gutenberg Bible and a first edition of “Paradise Lost” are just a few of the gems stored in the amazing collection.

One myth from the library was that all the oxygen leaves the building in the event of a fire and would kill anyone left inside while saving the books from the inferno.

Although the viral rumor sounds possible, it’s only legend. Tour guides of the historic library try to correct the myth year after year, but some myths die hard.

The fact is, instead of water sprinklers that would harm the books, a combination of halon and Inergen gases would be pumped into the library to stop the flames from spreading.

While we’re on the topic of the legendary Beinecke Library, another myth-buster is the building does not descend into the ground in the event of a nuclear attack on New Haven, CT.


Action Comics Issue #1 Heading for Auction

One of the most iconic and valuable comic books of all time is heading for Heritage Auctions. The sale will offer the most valuable comic book ever published.

Estimates are for the comic to sell anywhere between $500,000 and $800,000.

Action Comics issue #1 was where Superman made his very first appearance, eventually launching the Golden Age of Comics.


Remembering One of the Largest Rare Book Gifts Ever

A few years ago, one of the largest gifts of rare books ever was given to Princeton by philanthropist William Scheide.

At the time of the gift, the total value was over $300 million. Among the collection were a Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s first, second, third, and fourth folios, an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington’s 1754 “Journal,” and Paul Revere’s “Bloody Massacre” engraving from 1770.

The collection resides in the Firestone Library at Princeton University.


Hamilton Letter to Madison Shatters Estimates

Lion Heart Autographs announced the sale of a rare letter from Alexander Hamilton to James Madison written in 1790.

Original estimates for the letter before the sale were $8,000 – $10,000. The final sale price was $113,850—more than 10 times the initial estimate.

Other results from the auction included a Benjamin Franklin inscription, a Robert Frost handwritten poem, and a rare Mahatma Gandhi quote on faith.


Vanity Fair Profiles Acrobatic Rare-Book Heist

Some of the most important, significant, and rare printed books in European history were stolen by a Mission Impossible-style heist. Vanity Fair featured the entire amazing story recently and recounted the thrilling details.

A few of the stolen books were a copy of Einstein’s own 1621 ‘The Cosmic Mystery,’ Isaac Newton’s ‘Mathematical Principles,’ and a 1569 copy of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy.’

The story details how detectives from Scotland Yard, Germany, Italy, and Romania finally caught up with the impossibly planned heist.


$12.4 million in rare book sales from Christie’s New York Auction

This week over $12 million in rare books traded hands at Christie’s New York auction. A few notable sales included a French illuminated manuscript titled ‘The Parisian Book of Hours’ for $3.6 million.

Also sold was a first-edition book by Plato for $1 million, the highest price ever paid for a work by Plato.


Coming Soon to Rally – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1st Edition

Own a share in a 120-year-old iconic book. Fractional share platform Rally will offer a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, beginning on 4/28 at 12:00 pm ET.

The book will be offered at a valuation of $90,000. Published in 1900 by the George M. Hill Company, the condition is listed as “Exceptionally Fine.”

View other comparable listings of the 1st edition book here


A first edition copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493 sold for $437,000 at a Bonhams auction. The book was hand-colored and written over several years, originally published in Latin.

Inside the incredibly well-preserved book are illustrations depicting 15th-century life, including 29 large double-page views of cities, giving the reader an amazing detailed insight into past civilizations.

The book was estimated to sell between $200,000 and $300,000.