$170,000 Paid for 8 Leaves from Gutenberg Bible


Eight leaves from a Gutenberg Bible sold Tuesday for $170,000--about three times more than expected--in lively bidding on the second day of a four-day auction at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.

The pages, removed from a Gutenberg Bible that was broken up in the 1940s, contain the entire Letter to the Romans by the Apostle Paul. The presale estimate on the leaves was $50,000 to $75,000, said Chris Coover, a manuscript specialist with Christie’s, the auction house conducting the sales.

The winning bid was by New York rare book dealer H.P. Kraus, who beat out a private buyer from London and two dealers from San Francisco and Southern California.


“The bidding was spirited . . . you could even say heated,” Coover said.

In all, sales from the Estelle Doheny collection amounted to $1.06 million on Tuesday and a total of $2.76 million for the first two days, including the 10% auctioneer’s commission.

Once housed at the Roman Catholic seminary, the collection is being auctioned by the Los Angeles Archdiocese to build an endowment fund for the education of future priests.

A complete Volume I of the Gutenberg Bible, printed in 1455, was sold for $5.3 million in the first Doheny auction last October in New York. The rare Gutenberg Bibles were divided into two volumes, the first extending from Genesis through Psalms.

Among other items sold Tuesday was a Bret Harte manuscript, “How I Went to the Mines,” for $18,000 to Heritage Book Shop in Los Angeles. Containing an autobiographical story that dealt with the writer’s early career in the California Gold Rush, the nine-page manuscript was written in 1897 and was published in a collection of Harte’s stories in 1900.