The Rarest Books In The World

Most of us can say that one of our favorite past times is reading. Whether you prefer fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, mysteries, romances, or any other genre of book, many can attest to getting lost in a story.  However, not all books are made to distract and could even hurt you if you did.

We are referring to rare books made from unusual items and publications that are part of history. Some of the rarest books known today sell for over $600,000 and only go up from there!

Can you imagine having these rare tomes in your collection, as well as the kind of library storage solutions you would need to keep them safe? It all seems so overwhelming.

Sourced from all corners of the globe, here are the top ten rarest books in the world. They range from the original Constitution of the United States to “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a fictional Harry Potter book of which only seven copies were printed.

1. The first book is literally deadly when not handled properly. “Shadows From The Walls of Death,” was printed in 1874 and is about 22 by 30 inches. This book is not only rare but deadly.

This is because it is comprised of over a hundred pages of wallpaper samples that contain lethal levels of arsenic in them. The story within the deadly pages is about a Union Army surgeon during the Civil War.

He set out to raise awareness about the dangers of arsenic. Pretty ironic, eh? The book is currently being held in Michigan State University’s massive library storage solutions for safekeeping.

Each page is sealed in plastic so that researchers may handle them without exposing themselves to the lethal chemical.  

2. “The Galen Palimpsest” is an 11th-century manuscript full of hymns that is more than meets the eye! Underneath these hymns, a physician and anatomist wrote his notes and observations in hopes of preserving his achievements in medical advancement.

These findings are said to have helped modern Western medicine as we know it today! The book was originally written on parchment paper which, at the time, was known to be expensive.

The findings in this book are what make it so desirable and rare. Researchers have been using X-ray technology to figure out what the writings beneath the top layers of text said. The image of the X-ray at work is pretty cool.

3. At one time, this book was used as a cutting board and even as a coaster! How rude to treat such an important text so flippantly!

In fact, this book is known to be one of the building blocks for English Literature. The Exeter Book from the 10th century contains everything from religious odes to tragic elegies and a number of riddles and surprisingly brazen jokes for the time period.​​​​​​​

4.  This old manuscript is from the 10th century. The Book of Deer is Scotland’s oldest surviving manuscript!

The text is currently being held at The University of Cambridge and holds only the pre-Norman manuscript. However, the rest  of this book is still incomplete.

Archaeologists have discovered pottery in the area dating back from years 1276 to 1395, which would have been around the time the book was printed. They are hoping to bring the book in its entirety back together in years to come.​​​​​​​

5. The Luneborch Manuscript was lost for over 40 years from the George Peabody Library only to be returned again via an anonymous package! This manuscript is a rare example of vernacular spirituality (meaning it was for personal use),  as this text was never used inside of the churches in Germany.

The strangest part: a Dutch artist was actually responsible for creating all the artwork inside of the book itself, which is a new find to historians. ​​​​​​​

Find yourself wanting to learn more about rare books all over the world? First, go to your local branch or university library to see what could be hiding in the stacks. Who knows, there could be rare books right in your area!


At Midwest Storage Solutions, we offer a number of library storage solutions. We understand the importance of archiving and having rare books keep their value, along with newer books.  For more information, contact us today!

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