One of world’s earliest known books expected to fetch more than $2.6m at auction

04-04-2024 02:14 PM

Ammon News - One of the earliest books in existence is expected to fetch upwards of $2.6m when it goes up for auction later this year.

The Crosby-Schøyen Codex, which was written in Coptic on papyrus in Egypt, is the earliest Christian liturgical book, according to the international auction house Christie’s, which will be holding the sale in London on June 11.

A single scribe is said to have written the codex, which is made up of 52 leaves - or 104 pages - over a period of 40 years at a monastery in upper Egypt.

Carbon dating suggests the book dates back to sometime between the middle of the 3rd and 4th centuries. One of the earliest witnesses to the spread of Christianity, the codex features the first epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah.

The pages are preserved behind plexiglass, kept in two lockable wooden boxes. Christie’s has estimated its sale price at between $2.6m and $3.8m.

The codex is part of the Bodmer Papyri, which were discovered in the 1950s and comprise biblical texts, Christian writings and pagan literary texts.

It was eventually acquired by the University of Mississippi where it remained until 1981. It exchanged hands a couple of times in the 1980s before being purchased by Norwegian manuscript collector Martin Schøyen in 1988. As such, the codex is the oldest known book in private hands.

Eugenio Donadoni, senior specialist for books and manuscripts at Christie’s in London, told CNN in an email that it will be of “wide appeal to institutions and privates alike.”


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