It’s no secret that the Pawn Stars crew, and especially Rick Harrison, love antique books. So there is always room for a deal when a particularly rare book comes through the door.
Working side by side with antique book expert Rebecca Romney, Rick has closed some really good deals, collecting some of the most valuable books in the world.
Check out some of the rarest books featured on Pawn Stars.
An Incunable by Thomas Aquinas
This book was printed in 1444, making it one of the oldest printed books and would be categorized as an incunable. Incunabula, also known as incunables or incunabulum, are pre-16th century printed items like books, pamphlets, and documents. Naturally, these early printed books are highly valued and considered some of the rarest.
When a rare book collector brought in what he claimed was an incunable written by the famous theologian and philosopher St. Thomas of Aquinas, he piqued Rick’s interest, who immediately called in the Pawn Stars’ rare book expert, Rebecca Romney.
Romney noticed black ink that framed the book’s pages and flagged it as not belonging to the 14th century. Rather, the book was more of a 19th-century publication and would cost slightly less than the $7,000 the collector hoped to get. Ultimately, Rick grabbed an incunable copy of St. Thomas’ Illumination for $2,500.
A Book On the History of Baseball
Published in 1910, this book might be a dream come true for any sports buff. According to book expert Rebecca Romney, there are only so many books from that era documenting sports like baseball, making this one particularly unique.
This rare book is considered the baseball bible in the sports collectible world. Even Rick admitted that he’d never seen such a book before, and the fact that all its pages are intact with little damage makes the book all the more interesting.
Two experts, one well-versed in books and the other in sports memorabilia, estimated the book to be worth about $2500- $4000. Fortunately for Rick, the book’s owner had initially asked for $1,300, which is what Rick offered him.
The Theatrum Chemicum
Compiled and annotated by Elias Ashmole, the Theatrum Chemicum, also known as the “Chemical Theatre,” is an extraordinary compendium of early alchemical writings by notable philosophers. Within its pages lies a treasure trove of alchemical wisdom, published and unpublished treatises, essays, poems, notes, and writings from many sources.
The Theatrum Chemicum is famously known as the book that contains the secret to making gold. When it was first published in 1652, the authorities declared this book illegal for obvious reasons—governments didn’t want anyone and everyone out there to claim they could make gold. The punishment was hanging at the gallows if you were found with this book.
That said, with all its controversy, this book was a major reference point for well-known scientists such as Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein, among others.
Since it was banned, very few existing copies of the Theatrum Chemicum exist. So owning one of these is a great fete, notes Pawn Stars book expert Romney.
In the end, the collector who owned it pawned it for $10,300, which was definitely a steal for Rick.
It’s easy to take printed books for granted. But did you know that the printing press was not invented until 1440?
Here’s another interesting fact: The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed using mass-produced moving metal, the earliest printing technology invented by innovator Johannes Gutenberg.
Only 49 copies of the Gutenberg Bible exist, and only 21 are complete. In the 1920s, a famous book dealer named Gabriel Wells came across an incomplete copy of the Gutenberg Bible and broke it up into single pages, bound the individual pages and sold them as such.
The particular page that was brought into the Pawn Stars shop was a leaf from the second book of Chronicles and was dated 1455. Its owner wanted $65,000 for it, although the book expert estimated the page to be worth $80,000 or more, given the historical significance of the Gutenberg Bible.
Giordano Bruno’s Banned Book
Giordano Bruno was a true philosopher ahead of his time. He daringly put forth theories about the universe that we now acknowledge as true, even before they could be proven or verified.
However, in the late 1500s, suggesting that the universe might be infinite and that planets might revolve around stars was quite controversial. Tragically, this led to Bruno being condemned to a gruesome fate—he was burned at the stake.
In a further attempt to suppress his ideas, the Church made a concerted effort to obliterate as many copies of Bruno’s books as they could lay their hands on, aiming to erase his legacy from the pages of history.
Here’s the juicy part: this literary masterpiece rolled off the printing press back in 1587, and there are only a scarce 50 copies known to exist in the entire world. After snappy bargaining with the owner, Rick takes the plunge, forks over a cool $100,000 to make his dreams come true, and clutches that rare book in his eager hands.
Book of Mormon
In one episode, Rick got a mind-blowing offer that got the shop buzzing with excitement: The Book of Mormon, a treasure worth its weight in gold.
Even Rebecca couldn’t contain her excitement and told Rick, “Hold on to your hat, buddy! This is the crème de la crème of valuable books I’ve ever laid my eyes on…” After carefully examining the ancient pages, she dropped the bombshell valuation—a whopping $40,000!
The whole crew was gobsmacked by the sheer worth of the 1842 edition of The Book of Mormon. Even the owner, Adam, couldn’t believe his luck.
According to Rebecca, the book’s worth was intricately tied to the tumultuous origins of the Mormon church. This particular edition held even greater significance because it marked the final printed edition before the unfortunate demise of the Mormon religion’s fearless founder.
After some haggling, Adam waved goodbye to The Book of Mormon and walked away with a cool $24,000 in his pocket. It was definitely a win-win situation.
Of course, many other books have made their way to the famous Gold & Silver Shop. These are just some of our most memorable ones.
What are your favorite rarest books featured on Pawn Stars?