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Rare Book Sells For $14.2-Million

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Image: Richard Mather, John Elliot
The Bay Psalm Book, inside cover. Image: Richard Mather, John Elliot

How much would you pay for a book? $15? $20?

How about more than $14-million?

That’s what businessman David Rubenstein paid for one on Tuesday.

It’s the most expensive book ever purchased in an auction.

It is believed to be the first book ever printed in what is now the United States of America.

It’s called the Whole Book of Psalmes, or the Bay Psalm Book for short.

In this case, “psalms” are the lyrics (words) to a religious song.

The book was produced in 1640 by a group of Puritans in Massachusetts.

There are only 11 copies of the book still in existence. Originally, about 1,700 were printed.

It’s not the first expensive book David Rubenstein has purchased. In 2007, he bought a copy of the Magna Carta for $21-million.

To buy the little book of psalms, he phoned in his bid from Australia.

He said he plans to lend the book out to libraries in the U.S. to display.

The book was originally printed on printing press that had been shipped over from England.

According to the New York Times website, “the press operator was a locksmith who was apparently learning as he went along: some of the pages were bound in the wrong order. At the bottom of one, someone wrote, ‘Turn back a leaf.'”

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
David Rubenstein bought a piece of history when he bought the Bay Psalm Book. If you could buy a historical artifact what would it be?

David Rubenstein has said that he plans to put the book on display in libraries throughout the United States. What would you do with your precious item?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Have you ever picked up an old book and flipped through the pages? How does it make you feel when you turned the pages?

Have you ever read a book or a story on a tablet computer? How did it make you feel when you read this electronic version?

Which way do you prefer to read books? Do you think electronic books will replace printed books in the future?

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Silent “p”
The word “psalms” is pronounced with a silent p, just like in the word “pneumonia,” “pterodactyl,” and “psychic.”

What other words can you think of that start with a silent letter?
HINT: There are quite a few words that begin with a silent “w” or “k”.