8 of the World’s Most Valuable Documents

Historically significant documents are a great collector’s item but they must be properly cared for in order to maintain their value. Converting important documents is a great way to preserve the information contained in them but sometimes the physical documents themselves are the important part. Some of the world’s most important documents have been sold at auction for impressive sums of money but private collectors and museums alike.

Most Valuable Documents

  1. Codex Leicester:

This collection of scientific writings is named for Thomas Coke, the Earl of Leicester who purchased the collection in 1719. Written by Leonardo da Vinci, the Codex includes many of his theories on astronomy, rock, air, water, the moon, and the heavens. This collection is the most valuable document in the world after being purchased at auction in 1994 by Bill Gates. He paid $30.8 million.

  1. Magna Carta:

The Magna Carta represents the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the authority of a despot and helped to form the beginnings of constitutional law in England and its territories. Explicitly stating that no free man could be punished except by the law of the land, it was the first document forced onto the King of England by the feudal barons and was intended to protect their rights and limit his powers. Written in 1215, the document was purchased in 2007 for $21.3 million by the American financier David Rubenstein.

  1. St. Cuthbert Bible:

This Latin gospel book dates back to the 7th century and it is remarkably good condition for its age. A significant piece of Anglo-Saxon history, this book was purchased at auction by the British Library in 2012 for $14.3 million.

  1. The Gospels of Henry the Lion:

Until Bill Gates purchased the Codex Leicester, these Gospels were the most expensive book in the world. Written for the Brunswick Cathedral by the Duke of Saxony in the late 12th century this masterpiece contains 50 full page illustrations and was purchased by a German collective including the German government in 1983. They paid a total of $8.1 million.

  1. The Birds of America:

Containing many of John James Audobon’s famous paintings of American birds, this copy was purchased in 2000 by Sheikh Saud Al-Thani of Qater for $8.8 million.

  1. The Canterbury Tales:

This first printed edition copy of the Canterbury Tales is one of only 12 known copies. Written by Geoffrey Chaucer, this edition went for $7.5 million in 1998 to an unknown buyer.

  1. Shakespeare’s First Folio:

Published in 1623, this folio contains many of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies and was sold in 2001 to an unknown buyer for $6.1 million.

  1. Les Liliacees:

This stunning collection of watercolors of flowers and plants on vellum was written and illustrated by Pierre-Joseph Redoute. It was published between 1802 and 1816 and includes 16 volumes and over 450 illustrations. This copy belonged to Empress Josephine and was purchased in 1985 by a syndicate led by the art dealer W. Graham Arader for $5 million.

Even though the physical documents have their own importance, the advantages of digital imaging finds a great application in preserving the valuable information or data.

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