A folio is a term used for a book made of individual sheets of paper, usually folded to produce two leaves or four pages. Folios were a common format for early printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century and many of the most valuable books on the market today were originally published as folios.

These include the early editions of the compendiums of Shakespeare’s plays known as the First Folio, Second Folio, Third Folio etc, as well as John James Audubon’s The Birds of America first published in 1827 and sometimes referred to as a ‘double elephant folio’ due to its size.

Shakespeare's four Folios

Rare collection of Shakespeare’s four Folios and poems offered by London dealer

29 March 2023

Bookseller Peter Harrington is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of William Shakespeare’s First Folio with the sale of a rare collection of works.

William Shakespeare’s First Folio

Copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to New York auction

14 June 2022

An original copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio, printed 400 years ago, will be offered at Sotheby’s in New York on July 21 with an estimate of $1.5m-2.5m (£1.2m-2m).


A landmark of Canadiana rediscovered in an attic

06 June 2022

Recently found in a Norfolk attic, a full set of Canadian scenes by the military artist and topographical draughtsman Major General James Pattison Cockburn (1779-1847) sold for £130,000 at Forum Auctions (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

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US Constitution copy takes $41m at New York auction 

19 November 2021

A hedge fund billionaire has outbid a group of crowdfunded cryptocurrency fans for a copy of the US Constitution and has agreed to loan it to a museum.

Stephan Loewentheil

Auction record for Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio’ as book dealer bids $8.4m at Christie’s

16 October 2020

An ‘original and complete’ copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio of plays set an auction record at Christie's latest 'Exceptional' sale in New York.

John Gould's Birds of Great Britain

Complete set of Gould’s Birds of Britain stars in our pick of five auction highlights this week

18 September 2020

ATG’s weekly selection of items that caught bidders’ eyes includes a rare complete set of John Gould’s ‘Birds of Britain’ that doubled estimate in Gloucestershire.


UK buyer sought for £2.5m collection of botanical drawings blocked from export

21 January 2020

The UK government is seeking a buyer to pay £2.5m for a group of 18th century botanical drawings.


A First Folio at Firsts as book fairs pack early June

13 May 2019

Running from June 7-9 at Battersea Evolution, the upcoming ' 'Firsts: London’s Rare Book Fair' will feature 150-exhibitors.

Richard Adams collection auction catalogue

Shakespeare Second Folio from collection of Watership Down author sells at Gloucestershire auction

21 December 2017

A copy of the second folio of William Shakespeare's plays from 1632 was among the star attractions at the sale of the library of the late Richard Adams (1920-2016), the author of ‘Watership Down’.

First four Shakespeare Folios at Christie's

US collector splashes out £2.48m on four Shakespeare folios at Christie’s

27 May 2016

A private US collector spent £2.48m at Christie’s, acquiring all four of the early William Shakespeare folios on offer in a specially-staged auction.

Shakespeare Folios at Christie's

Rediscovered copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio heads to auction

21 March 2016

A previously unrecorded copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio has emerged at Christie’s. Estimated at £800,000-1.2m, it will lead a specially-staged auction in May comprising just four lots – a copy of each of the first four Shakespeare folios.

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Victorian brass rubbings emerge at Norwich fleamarket

11 April 2014

An item with an interesting local connection which is for sale at this Saturday’s Norwich Fleamarket is a rare Victorian large folio of European brass rubbings collected by a Norwich cleric.


Swanns go native for $1.2m sale

18 October 2012

Edward S. Curtis’ monumental photographic study of ‘The North American Indian’ was one of the most expensive and ambitious undertakings in the history of book production, comprising 20 illustrated text volumes and 20 folios of larger photographic plates.


Views from a unique Victorian honeymoon

10 April 2012

IN February we revealed how Queen Victoria was an accomplished artist, but now her daughter’s skills have been highlighted by a Surrey auction.


Audubon flies to new record for printed book at £6.5m

13 December 2010

AT Sotheby's sale in New Bond Street on December 7, a copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America set a new auction record for any printed book when it sold to the London art dealer Michael Tollemache for £6.5m (plus premium).


Singapore and the China Seas, saved from the bonfire

22 March 2010

WILTSHIRE auctioneers Netherhampton Salerooms were celebrating a new house record on March 3 after a disbound album of Far Eastern topographical drawings sold for £43,000.


Is £2.5m a bargain for the Bard?

18 July 2006

IT set a British auction record for a Shakespeare First Folio and made the highest price ever seen for a printed book at Sotheby’s London (20/12% buyer’s premium) – but hushed voices at the back of the saleroom were suggesting that the £2.5m hammer price represented pretty good value for a near-perfect copy of the most important book in English literature.


£530,000 day suggests more Anglo-French sales are on the books

14 October 2004

DAY two of the sale of the Mira Jacob Collection, held by Bailly-Pommery-Voutier & Sotheby’s (23.92 - 14.35% buyer's premium), was devoted to prints and illustrated books and yielded €780,000 (£530,000) with all but seven of the 166 lots selling.

£160,000 in the Will

13 October 2004

THE sale of a Shakespeare First Folio is a rare event, but the sale of a copy that emerged out of nowhere is something that comes around only once in a generation.

Shakespeare but no will

07 October 2004

“EVERY auction house’s dream” is how Rupert Powell, managing director of Bloomsbury Auctions, described the discovery of a Shakespeare First Folio that will provide a fitting centrepiece for the company’s 500th sale on Thursday October 7.