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Buzz building for Bay Psalm Book auction

Buzz is building for the November sale of an ultra-rare Bay Psalm Book. The book, predicted to become the world’s most expensive printed book when it is auctioned by Sotheby’s, has been touring the United States.

It’s interesting to see regional media giving considerable space to the subject of rare books.  David Redden, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s Books Department, and David Spadafora, President of Chicago’s Newberry Library, appeared on Chicago Tonight to discuss the book and its significance. The Chicago Tribune previewed the book’s appearance at the Newberry. The St Louis Post-Dispatch did the same for the Missouri leg of the tour and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was another major newspaper to shine the spotlight on rare books.

There will more headlines in the mainstream devoted to this rare book as November comes closer. This interest benefits everyone in the rare book business and serves as a wonderful reminder for the historical significance of books in American culture.

The Bay Psalm Book was printed in 1640 and it’s important because it was the first book printed in what became the United States. It is a psalter – a small book of psalms translated from Hebrew into English by the colonists. The last Bay Psalm Book to be sold was bought at a Sotheby’s auction in 1947 for $151,000 by representatives bidding on behalf of Yale University. Only 11 copies survive, and Sotheby’s estimate the sale price will be between $15 million and $30 million.

Below are some pictures from the book’s recent public appearances.

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