NEW YORK - A tiny book of psalms from 1640, believed to be the first book printed in what's now the United States, sold for just under $14.2 million recently, setting an auction record for a printed book.
The Bay Psalm Book, which was auctioned at Sotheby's in Manhattan, had a pre-sale estimate of $15 million to $30 million. A copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America" was the previous record-holder, selling for $11.5 million at Sotheby's in 2010.
Only 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book survive in varying degrees of completeness. The book sold at Sotheby's was one of two owned by Boston's Old South Church, which voted to sell it to increase its grants and ministries.
Samuel Adams was a member and Benjamin Franklin was baptized at the church, which was established in 1669.
"This is enormous for us," said the Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister of the church. "It is life-changing for the ministries we can do."
The book was bought over the phone by American businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who plans to lend it to libraries around the country.
The sale price included the buyer's premium.
In April, Taylor called the book "spectacular" and said it is "arguably one of the most important books in this nation's history."
The church owned five copies of the 6-inch-by-5-inch book. One is now at the Library of Congress, one is at Yale University and one is at Brown University.
The book was published in Cambridge, Mass., by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony just 20 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
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