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What Are Some of the Most Rarest Books of All Time?

Perhaps one of the best quotes that convey the power of books comes from the wonderful cosmologist, Carl Sagan. He said that books ‘break the shackles of time’ and bind together people who ‘ever knew each other, citizens of distant epochs’. Books, he said, are ‘proof that humans are capable of working magic’.

Books that are rare in their original printing are particularly prized and admired, for different reasons. Some, like the Gutenberg Bible, represent revolutionary inventions. Others, like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, represent the start of an incredible writing career by an author.

In this blog post, we will highlight some of the rarest books of all time.

In our time

Published in 1924 in Paris where he was living with his first wife, Hadley, and their son, John, in our time was a short story collection by Ernest Hemingway. This version was published by Three Mountains Press a year before being published in the United States by Boni & Liveright.

In 1926, Hemingway would publish the phenomenal The Sun Also Rises, bringing him to international acclaim. Today he ranks among the greatest American writers. Only 170 copies remain of the original in our time printing.

On the Origins of Species By Means of Natural Selection

Around 1,250 copies of Charles Darwins’ 1859 book were published. This book is seen as the foundation of evolutionary biology and remains one of the most significant books ever published. Copies today are highly sought after and demand understandably high prices.


James Joyce’s Ulysses is one of the most highly-regarded and rarest novels today. The story, well-known for being a difficult read, chronicles the happenings of an Irishman in Dublin over the course of one day in June 1904.

It was published in Paris by Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore founded by Sylvia Beach in 1919. Just 1,000 copies were printed in the first edition.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

It may be hard to comprehend that the first book in the Harry Potter series was published as far back as 1997. It was published by Bloomsbury Press and only 500 hardbound copies were printed. Today, there exists some 200 sellable copies, making it a highly-prized collector’s piece.

This book marked the beginning of a wonderful series that propelled the author, J.K. Rowling, to international renown. It is a series cherished by adults and children alike.

If you are interested in learning more about rare books, be sure to check out

Discover Some of the Rarest Books That Exist Today

If you are an avid reader, it is understandable to be interested in the first editions of famous novels. In the cases listed above, and many others, few original copies exist, which makes them highly sought after. The above rarest books are all collectors’ items and demand high prices when put up for auction.

Like this blog post on vintage books? Be sure to check out our other interesting articles on the rest of our blog today.

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