Rare book sells online for a whopping $191,000

Two plates from the rare 1765 Italian book, "A Natural History of Birds"

A rare book sold via AbeBooks for $191,000, smashing all the online bookseller’s records. The largest previous sale was for $65,000.

The $191,000 book is “Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo e adornata di figure intagliate in rame e miniate al naturale. Ornithologia methodice digesta atque iconibus aeneis ad vivum illuminatis,” a rare Italian illustrated book of birds published in 1765.

The book, known in English as “A Natural History of Birds,” was written and illustrated by by Violante Vanni, Lorenzo Lorenzi and Saverio Manetti. The book was commissioned by Maria Luisa, the grand duchess of Tuscany, and has 600 hand-colored engraved plates of birds from around the world.




Feb. 4, 6:55 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the largest previous sale was for less than a third of $191,000. It also rendered AbeBooks with a lowercase B.


AbeBooks is an online market for used and rare booksellers around the globe. The buyer was a veteran AbeBooks customer from Europe.

Another copy of “A Natural History of Birds” is listed for sale on the site by a New York dealer for $450,000. “Prices can vary significantly for many high-end collectible books,” said AbeBooks’ Richard Davies, noting that “very few of these books have actually become available in recent times.”

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