The first book printed in the United States sold yesterday at Sotheby’s auction for $14 million according to the NY Times. The book was the 1640 Puritan copy of the book called the Bay Psalm Book. The copy was one of two held by the Old South Church which were being held by the Boston Public Library. There are only 11 known copies of the book now.
Libraries have a rich history with this item. If you are interested in the content, here are some paths to follow to learn more.
The Library of Congress describes their copy in the following catalog entry http://lccn.loc.gov/71002405 The LC held copy has been scanned and is available publicly to view through the LC Digital Collections site.
The digital scan can be viewed in great detail at http://oc.lc/psalmbook Use the “Next Image” link to browse through the pages.
I found the language of the time interesting reading. Here is an example from pages 94-95: “Becaufe of his voyce that doth fcorne and fcoffingly defpight” Doth thou know what meaning this is?
Libraries worldwide have microfilm copies of the book if you want to see a copy locally. See WorldCat holdings at http://oc.lc/wcpsalmbook for a links to libraries that hold the item.
This all makes me wonder how our digital texts will be viewed 400 years from now. Will there be collectors? Without the scarcity that leads to this level of curation, what will motivate special attention to one work over another? Would there be an event that would thrust a specific work into mainstream news for a day?
The NY Times article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/nyregion/book-published-in-1640-makes-record-sale-at-auction.html