A rare, complete, and original copy of the iconic writer Shakespeare’s first printed collection of plays sold for a record $9.97 million at an auction, the famous auction house Christie’s in New York confirmed. This set a new auction world record for any printed work of literature, surpassing the previous $6.16 million for a Shakespeare First Folio that was set in 2001.
This book from 1623 was bought by American rare-book private collector Stephan Loewentheil, founder of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop.
“It is an honor to purchase one of only a handful of complete copies of this epochal volume. It will ultimately serve as a centerpiece of a great collection of intellectual achievements of man,” Loewentheil said in a statement.
Famously called the First Folio, the book was published seven years after the death of the Bard of Avon. When it was printed, it was Shakespeare’s first collected edition of players and the first book when 18 out of the 36 plays in it were printed. Further, this was the first time that Shakespeare’s plays were categorized as histories, comedies, and tragedies.
The book includes iconic plays such as Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and the The Tempest.
Put up for auction by Mills College, a private liberal arts college in Oakland, California, this was the first time in nearly two decades that a copy of the First Folio came up for auction.
“A complete copy of the First Folio comes up more or less once in a generation,” said Margaret Ford, the International Head of Books and Manuscripts at Christie’s.
“Those 18 plays very likely would not have survived were it not for the first printing of the Folio,” Ford added.
It is known that around 235 copies of the First Folio exist though all of them are not complete. Of these, a mere 6 are known to be in the hands of private owners.
It was estimated that this copy of the Folio would sell at anywhere between $4 and $6 million. However, it surpassed all expectations by selling for close to $10 million.
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