In an evermore digitized world, the printed word takes on special value–especially if it happens to be enshrined in a rare, beautiful and historically significant book.
Auction houses and collectors did brisk business in rare books in 2006, setting records in several categories. A 15th-century edition of maps by the second-century Greek mathematician Ptolemy brought in $4 million, the highest price ever paid for an atlas. An 1873 signed edition of Une saison en enfer (A Season in Hell) by the poet Arthur Rimbaud brought in a record price for a work of French literature, $644,000.
Last year also saw a record price set for an Australian book, with the sale of Journey of Discovery to Port Phillip, New South Wales, for $689,000. A seminal work of exploration, the book plays a role in Australian history comparable to Lewis and Clark’s History of the Expedition in the United States.