NEW YORK CITY — The Bible collection of renowned theologian and author Dr Charles Caldwell Ryrie soared over presale expectations on December 5 at Sotheby’s, realizing $7,341,818. Over the course of four hours, 195 printed and manuscript Bibles in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English and numerous other languages, as well as other theological works, were offered, led by the Wycliffite New Testament in the later version, in Middle English, which tripled its estimate and achieved $1.7 million. With many lots coming to the marketplace for the first time in decades, this impressive collection garnered interest from both public institutions and private collectors from around the world.
The heart of Ryrie Bible collection lies in early English translations of the Bible, including the top lot of the auction, John Wycliffe’s Wycliffite New Testament in the later version, in Middle English. It was produced in England around 1430. Numerous telephone bidders competed for this rare manuscript, taking it past its $500/800,000 presale estimate. Bible in English, Coverdale’s version, is another such example: faithfully and truly translated from Dutch and Latin into English, this first edition is one of the most complete copies to appear at auction in over twenty years, and sold for $348,500.
Non-English Bibles, particularly manuscripts, also achieved significant prices. “The Benton Gospels” in Greek, written in Constantinople from the early to mid-Tenth Century, realized $250,000, while The Four Gospels in Greek sold for $275,000. Bible with Prologues and Interpretations of Hebrew Names, in Latin, hailing from Italy, hence the nickname Italian Bible, obtained $200,000 in the salesroom.
Watch for a complete review of the sale in an upcoming issue.