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The 10 Rarest Books in the World

Shakespeare's First Folio

When Shakespeare's work was collected and published for the first time in 1623, it was worth about two dollars. Today, an original copy of his first folio is worth $6 million. This shift in value reminds us of Polonius' words in Hamlet: "though this be madness, yet there is method to 't" (which is practically the only time in the whole play Polonius is not being annoying). About 750 copies of the folio were printed in the first run, and around 228 of them survive. We already mentioned that Bill Gates got his hands on a Gutenberg Bible, so it's interesting to note that the most recent sale of Shakespeare's first folio was to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. "When words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain," old Will might say.

Tags: shakespeare, books, slideshows, collections, books-and-comics, antiques

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Becky Ferreira

Becky Ferreira is a writer, performer, and raptor based in New York.

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