Forget the millions of e-book devices that people own now. Rare books still capture the imaginations of readers in the United States. The Associated Press reports a book found in the vault of the College of Charleston's library is around 270 years old. The Charleston Library Society funded a search through library vaults throughout the South to find any lost volumes the group may have had at one time. The volume of "Dissertation Upon Parties" was written in 1743 by Henry St. John Lord Bolingbroke.
Rare book finds have been making headlines for a few years now even in the digital age of reading.
Marie Malchodi's official job title is "book conservation technician" at Brown University in Rhode Island. One day in April she was gently turning pages of a medical textbook dated to the 1770s when she discovered something remarkable, according to the New York Times.
An illustration tucked into the back of the book depicts the baptism of Jesus. It is signed "P. Revere Sculp." The name is familiar to historians of the American Revolution--Paul Revere went on a famous midnight ride to warn the colonists about raiding British soldiers.
The work was found among 300,000 rare books housed at the John Hay Library. Malchodi was preparing books to be transported to another site on campus when she discovered the rare illustration.
When movable type printing was a brand new technology, printer Anton Koberger of Germany produced tomes called the "Nuremberg Chronicle." The title is considered one of the most lavish representations of movable type printing invented by Johannes Gutenberg, according to CBS News. The heavily-illustrated work was published in 1493.
The Deseret News reported in April 2011 a man found such a rare volume in Utah. Even in dilapidated condition, the "Nuremberg Chronicle" was appraised at $25,000. The Huffington Post stated the asking price for the tome was $35,000 when the owner decided to sell it in June.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's"
Truman Capote's iconic work "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was made into a famous movie by the same title. Originally published in 1903, first editions of the novel are rare. Britain's Falmouth Packet reported in June a charity shop found an original "Breakfast at Tiffany's" worth about 500 pounds, or $800.
Capote's classic was found among a collection of hundreds of books donated to Oxfam Books and Music in 2009. Staff and volunteers were still sorting through volumes a year and a half after the donor's death when the collecting came to the charity shop.
Rare Books Still Coveted
An article in March in the Marietta (Ohio) Times touts many rare books still sell for tens of thousands of dollars. A first edition of Ernest Hemignway's "Three Stories & Ten Poems" sold at an auction for $68,000. There were only 300 copies ever made in 1923. An 1840 book called "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque" was bought for $21,250. Despite the digitization of books, print works aren't dead yet.
William Browning is a research librarian.