by jeremyComments (0) The Koran, or The Recitation, is the central text of the Muslim religion. It may also be written Quran or Al-Quran. In its original Arabic, it is believed by its followers to be the word of Allah (the Arabic word for God) dictated to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. The first known Korans were printed from wooden blocks in the 10th century CE. Recently, the most expensive Koran was sold for £1,140,500 (over $2.3 million USD).
This expensive religious text is over 800 years old, having been dated to 1203 CE. Its most remarkable feature, though, is that the central text is written entirely in gold, with marginal notes written in silver. It is the oldest known complete copy of the Koran written in gold.
Sold at auction on behalf of the Hispanic Society of America, the gold Koran was expected, at most, to fetch less than three quarters of its final sale price. In the end, it not only shattered the record for the most expensive Koran, but also for the most expensive Islamic text ever sold.
Prior to the widespread use of the printing press, monastic orders preserved important texts by spending painstaking hours reproducing them calligraphically. These texts were often illuminated with illustrations in color or even in gold or silver. Each of these hand-copied texts became a work of art on its own and, in the modern era, can be worth a fortune. Reviving the monastic tradition, Saint John’s Abbey and University commissioned calligraphic artist Donald Jackson to achieve his dream of writing a bible by hand.
The Saint John’s Bible is as epic in volume as it was an undertaking. Two feet tall, three feet wide and over 1,000 pages long, the illuminated text is bound in seven volumes. While the bible was rendered by hand, its layout was managed by state-of-the-art computer technology. This expensive bible was written on vellum using quills dipped in handmade inks and hand-ground pigments. It was also gilded in gold and silver leaf.
Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, lauded as one of the greatest novelists in history, penned such classics as A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. It’s no wonder, then, that early editions of his work can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.
Until recently, the most expensive Charles Dickens book ever sold was a copy of A Christmas Carol auctioned in 1996 by Sotheby’s in New York. That first edition book, the time-honored story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas redemption, nabbed $160,000 for the seller.
The record now goes to another first edition, a copy of Oliver Twist. Notably, the book contains an inscription by Dickens to friend and fellow novelist William Ainsworth. The book was part of the Kenyan Starling Library owned by TV mogul William E. Self. The collection was actually a union of two collections—those of Self and rival collector Starling, who bequeathed his considerable library to Self in his will. Its hammer price of $229,000 at Christie’s in New York made it Dickens’ most expensive book ever.
Also up for auction were a Christmas presentation copy of The Old Curiosity Shop and a presentation copy of The Cricket on the Hearth. In June, another Christie’s auction will sell the desk and chair at which Dickens penned much of his work, including Great Expectations