A bound copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s seminal book on mathematics and science was sold for $3.7 million, making it the most expensive printed scientific book ever sold at auction, according to Christie’s, the auction house that handled the sale.
The book has a Latin title — “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” which translates to “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” but scholars often call it the Principia. After Newton (1642-1727) wrote the book, he gave it to the English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742) for editing, and it was printed and sold in London more than 300 years ago, in 1687.
The book is a pivotal piece of science and history, and theoretical physicist Albert Einstein called it “perhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make.”
Even so, Christie’s expected the goat-skin-covered book to bring in between $1 million and $1.5 million, but the unnamed bidder bought it for nearly four times that value at $3,719,500.