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13th-century Bible tops $100k at auction in Wellington Found in: The Dominion Post

A rare 13th-century Bible has sold for more than $100,000 at a Wellington's Dunbar Sloane auction house.

Handwritten in Latin, the Bible's 298 pages are worn and delicate, but still feature bright and elaborate red and blue detailing.

Although the bidding started at $15,000, nine overseas bidders pursued the book, which led to a United States buyer winning the auction with a final bid of $101,000.

It was the most expensive book the auction house had sold, Dunbar Sloane senior valuer and auctioneer Anthony Gallagher said.

"We knew once the phone started ringing and we had people calling from around the world, asking for condition updates, we knew it was something special."

There's only a handlful of 13th-century Bibles left in the world.

Gallagher, who auctioned the Bible, said the sale price was exciting.

"We had nine phone calls going as well as two bidders in the room.

"The bidding started at $15,000 and slowly worked its way up to between a bidder in Europe and in Chicago, who eventually ended up winning it."

It was not very often they had the chance to sell a book "at that level", he said.

"To find it in little old New Zealand is quite fantastic."

There would be a couple of hundred Bibles of the same league left in the world, he said.

"The condition was exceptional. There was a few leaves missing, but apart from that it was in great condition."

The pre-printing press Bible was written completely by hand in gothic letter and in Latin. 

The lines were written in sharp black ink and three styles of writing can be seen in the book..

It's estimated to have taken months, if not years, to complete.

The sale was part of the auction's rare book sale, part of a group of medieval and antiquarian volumes from the collection of the late Victoria University professor Gary Gorman.

Next week, the Bible would be sent to its new owner in Chicago.

- Stuff