Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Ryrie’s Bible Collection Sells for $7.3m at Auction

Dan Wallace was apparently not at Sotheby’s for yesterday’s auction of Charles Ryrie’s amazing Bible collection but he reports:
A Coptic fragment with citations
from Matthew's Gospel (more)
Ryrie did not own junk. His printed books were in excellent condition. The selling price reflected this. The very first published Greek New Testament, Erasmus’s Novum Testamentum [sic; Instrumentum] (1516), sold for $24,000. The third edition (1522)—the first one to have the comma Johanneum in it—was a bargain at $5500. 
A second edition of Tyndale’s New Testament (Ryrie owned nearly a dozen of these!) sold for $75,000. There were also several copies of the Matthew’s Bible ($22,000), Coverdale Bible ($11,000–$21,000), Great Bible ($4,000–$28,000), Geneva New Testament ($30,000), Bishops Bible ($48,000), Douay-Rheims Bible ($18,000), a rare copy of the KJV ‘Wicked Bible’ (1631; so-called because the printer left out the ‘not’ in the seventh commandment; thus, “Thou shalt commit adultery”!) for $38,000.
The Luther vellum Bible sold for $260,000. It is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen. This was more than double the expected sale price. 
A rare Complutensian Polyglot (only 600 were printed) came in under expectations at $70,000. This included actually the first printed Greek New Testament, though it was not published until six years after Erasmus’s work was out. The Textus Receptus—the Greek that stands behind the KJV—was essentially Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, with some wording from the CP as well as later editions of the Greek New Testament that were largely based on Erasmus.
It’s pretty amazing. Read the rest at Dan’s report here.

Sadly, I never got to see Ryrie’s collection when I was at Dallas.


The whole collection sold for over 7.3 million dollars! The list from Sotheby’s is incredible. The whole collection has 197 items in it which means an average of about $37,000 per item. I hope they found good homes.


  1. " I especially would like to see them digitally preserved and the images posted on the Internet—in particular, the Greek NT manuscripts."
    Why didn't Dr. Wallace accomplish this during any of his many visits to Dr. Ryrie's collection?

    1. Anonymous,
      Fear not. Though Dr. Wallace may have momentarily forgotten, digital page-views of 669 are already at CSNTM at http://www.csntm.org/Manuscript/View/GA_669
      and digital page-views of 2346 are likewise viewable at
      http://www.csntm.org/Manuscript/View/GA_2346 .

    2. Anon,
      It might be that Dr. Ryrie never gave permission for his entire collection to be digitised. CSNTM would never digitise a manuscript without the consent of its custodian.

  2. Wallace says at his blog, " I bid on two small items, which quickly escalated out of my price range." So, was this done by proxy, or remotely, or was he there?

    1. Not sure how he bid. But he told me he wasn't there.