5 “The Codex Leicester” – Quite a Book!
The most expensive book ever sold was neither a Guttenberg Bible nor a Shakespearean folio; in fact, it was not exactly a book at all, in the traditional sense. Rather it was a journal, and not created by the name it bears. Yes, this is confusing. In 1717, the Earl of Leicester bought the journal in question, which contained the notes of none other than Leonardo di Vinci. Almost 300 years later, in 1994, the book was purchased again, this time by a modern inventor and thinker, Bill Gates. Mr. Microsoft paid just under $31 million for the journal … and that was in ancient 1990s dollars!
4 “Head of a Muse” – Raphael’s Drawing
A few short years ago, in December of 2009, a little drawing – all of 12 by 9 inches and wrought in black chalk on paper – sold for a decidedly not little price. The artist was Raphael, the drawing was named “Head of a Muse,” and the price tag Christie’s auction house settled for was $47,941,095!
3 William Shakespeare – The World’s Most Valuable Autograph
It seems that everything Shakespeare wrote had that golden Midas touch, even if it was merely his own name. So few examples of Shakespeare’s autograph remain in existence that they would fetch more than an estimated $5 million.
2 The Declaration of Independence – Even the Copies Are Worth a Fortune
Contrary to popular belief, there are, in fact, many Declarations of Independence, in a technical sense. Many copies of the document were created on that fateful day, July 4, 1776, and many more copies were created in the days and weeks that followed – mass communication being different than it is today. One of the copies that can be authenticated as from July 4th sold in the year 2000 for a little more than $8 million.
1 Honus Wagner – The Most Valuable Baseball Card of All Time
In April of 2013, a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $2.1 million! The card, featuring Wagner as a Pittsburgh Pirate, is especially rare, and thus especially valuable, thanks to Mr. Wagner himself, but in a way you would not expect: Wagner was fiercely anti-tobacco, and when he learned that one of his baseball cards was selling with cigarettes, he personally ordered their production stopped and existing copies destroyed. Thus only a few dozen exist today.