Bay Psalm Book sold for world record $14.2m at auction

The work has become the most expensive printed book in the world

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The Independent Culture

The Bay Psalm Book has sold for $14.2 million to set a world record.

Believed to be the first book published in the US, the work has become the most expensive printed book after it was auctioned in New York last night.

Dating from 1640, the book was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Congregationalist Puritans after they translated the original Hebrew psalms into English.

Prior to the auction, The Bay Psalm Book was estimated to sell for $15 million to $30 million.

The book will be loaned to libraries across the country after US philanthropist David Rubenstein secured the book with his winning bid at Sotheby's.

Auctioneers told how the book was sold by Boston's Old South Church, where the Boston Tea Party originated and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was baptised.

Around1,700 copies were originally printed and the Old South Church still holds one other it intends to keep.

Only 11 copies are thought to still be in existence, with the other nine kept in collections worldwide.

However, there are multiple printing and translation errors within the editions, leading to early criticism about The Bay Psalm Book's quality.

The word "psalm" appears as "psalme" on every right hand page and apostrophes have been replaced with inverted commas.

It was noted 200 years ago by publisher and author Isaiah Thomas that "the compositor must have been wholly unacquainted with punctuation" to produce a work that "abounds with typographical errors".

Nevertheless, another copy of the book sold for $151,000 in 1947 to set a record that beat prices paid for a Shakespeare First Folio and Gutenberg Bible.

The most expensive book ever sold was a handwritten Leonardo da Vinci notebook that went for $30.8 million in 1994.

John James Audubon's Birds of America was the previous record-holder for the world's priciest printed work after it sold for $11.5 million in 2010.