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An illuminated manuscript is any manuscript whose text is accompanied by decoration. It originally referred only to silver or gilt adornments, but came to be acceptable terminology for any manuscript with drawings, paintings or decorations such as ornate initials, borders, floral accoutrements and the like. Often the illuminations would depict a historical or rural/pastoral scene.
As a group, Books of Hours are arguably the most beautiful of all books. They are also some of the most expensive, with modest examples starting in five figures. One of the finest Book of Hours-the richly illuminated Rothschild Prayerbook-sold for a record $13.5 million (£8.6 million) in 1999.
It is one of the great ironies of book collecting that Bibles can be among both the most valuable and least expensive of books. Gutenberg′s 42-line Bible is probably the most valuable printed book, with single leaves selling for $60,000 and up. On the other hand, free copies of English-language translations of the Bible can be found at churches or downloaded from websites.