• Friday, July 19, 2024

The World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Sells for $3.8 Million at a UK Auction

Discover the ancient Crosby-Schoyen Codex, world's oldest privately owned book, sold for $3.8 million at Christie's auction. Rare biblical manuscript.
on Jun 12, 2024
The World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Sells for $3.8 Million at a UK Auction | Frontlist

The Crosby-Schoyen Codex was previously owned by Norwegian businessman and rare book collector Martin Schoyen, and it contains the earliest complete copies of two Bible texts: the book of Jonah and Peter's first letter.

The world's oldest book in a private collection, as well as one of the first books in existence, sold for more than £3 million at an auction in London on Tuesday.

The Crosby-Schoyen Codex was previously owned by Norwegian businessman and rare book collector Martin Schoyen, and it contains the earliest complete copies of two Bible texts: the book of Jonah and Peter's first letter.

Bidding for the manuscript at Christie's auction house began at £1.7 million, with a mix of eager online and in-person bidders.
It went for £3,065,000 ($3,898,000) plus taxes to an anonymous phone bidder.

Egyptian farmers unearthed the codex in the 1950s.

It was first copied by a monk in what is now Egypt about the fourth century AD, making it at least 1,600 years old and significantly older than more famous ancient books like the Gutenberg Bible, which dates from the 1450s.

The ancient biblical text, written in Coptic writing on double-sided papyrus leaves and now preserved between plexiglass plates, illustrates breakthroughs in written technology during a time when single-sided scrolls were more frequent.

In addition to the literary pearl, twelve other handpicked works from the Schoyen Collection were auctioned.

According to its website, the collection consists of nearly 20,000 objects that span 5,000 years of history, from 3,500 BC to the present.

Although significant, the sale does not represent the greatest amount paid for a rare text.

Last year, the Codex Sassoon, a Hebrew Bible over 1,000 years old, sold for $38.1 million at Sotheby's in New York, setting a new record.

That topped Microsoft founder Bill Gates' 1994 payment of $30.8 million for Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester manuscript.

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The most expensive historical document is still one of the earliest prints of the United States Constitution, which Sotheby's sold in November 2021 for $43 million.

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