At Large  August 5, 2017  Rebecca Rego Barry

6 Six-Figure Bibles Going to Auction

Sotheby’s

Lot 9: The Wycliffite New Testament, manuscript, early 15th-century, with marginal corrections in a contemporary hand. “Possession of a Wycliffite Bible in the 15th century could lead to accusations of heresy, and imprisonment, so they very rarely have early marks of ownership,” according to Sotheby’s. Bound in modern white pigskin. The estimate is $500,000-800,000.

On December 5, one of the world’s best private collections of English Bibles will hit the auction block at Sotheby’s New York. It is the collection of Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, described by the auction house as a “renowned theologian and the editor of a bestselling study Bible.” Ryrie’s collection is comprehensive--including papyrus fragments, illuminated manuscripts, and two leaves from the Gutenberg Bible, alongside many early printed editions. Highlighted here are six of the very rarest in the collection, each of which is estimated to realize six figures. 

Sotheby’s

Lot 8: An Italian manuscript Bible, dated 1273, with numerous historiated and decorated initials throughout and bound in 15th-century brown leather with original brass bosses. The estimate is $150,000-250,000.

Sotheby’s

Lot 44: The 1530 Tyndale Pentateuch—“one of the great rarities of the English Bible.” This is the only copy in private hands and the only copy to appear at auction in more than 100 years, according to Sotheby’s. The estimate is $300,000-500,000.

Sotheby’s

Lot 46: Coverdale Bible in English, printed c. 1535-36. “First edition of the whole Bible in English, and one of the most complete copies to appear at auction in over twenty years.” The estimate is $150,000-250,000.

Sotheby’s

Lot 86: The 1611 King James Bible. This copy originally belonged to a “close confidant” of King James I. It is bound in contemporary London calf over boards. The estimate is $400,000-600,000.

Sotheby’s

Lot 140: Eliot’s ‘Indian Bible’—the first Bible printed in America, it was translated by Eliot for the Natick-Algonquin Native Americans of Massachusetts and printed in Cambridge, MA, in 1663. The estimate is $175,000-250,000.

About the Author

Rebecca Rego Barry

Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places and the editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine.

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