8 Pages Of The Gutenberg Bible Could Sell For Half A Million Dollars At Auction

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

There may only be eight pages of it, but it could be worth more than half a million dollars.

A fragment of the Gutenberg Bible could fetch between $500,000 and $700,000 in an auction at Sotheby's in New York on June 19, the Guardian reports.

The Latin book marked the first major publication from Johann Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press in 15th century Germany. Gutenberg printed between 150-180 copies, just 49 of which remain in “varying completeness," Sotheby's noted in its listing for the rare item.

The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York currently owns the fragment, which Sotheby's Senior Vice President Richard Austin told told Forward in May are particularly rare in their completeness.

“It’s unusual to have more than one leaf show up [for sale],” he said.

The fragment contains eight consecutive pages from the Bible, including the entire Book of Esther, the end of Judith, the prologue of St Jerome to Esther and the beginning of the first prologue of Jerome to Job.

Sotheby's notes that the pages at one point belonged to Gabriel Wells, a New York book dealer who began selling off his Gutenberg Bible leaf by leaf in 1921, charging $150 per page. Mortimer Schiff, a banker and book collector, bought the eight-page fragment from Wells and donated it to the seminary in 1922.

Despite its historical significance, the artifact was not contributing value to JTS' collections, the school said.

“Because scholars rarely turn to JTS for these non-Hebrew materials, they have lain dormant on library shelves for the 90 years they have been in our collection,” David Kraemer, the JTS librarian and a professor of Talmud and rabbinics, told Forward.

Proceeds from the sale will go back to the school's library, Forward reports.



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