Rarest Items in the World
- Bet You Don't Own One of These!
Luxist.com takes a peek inside the world of the uncommon and elusive. From wine, coins and jewels to jeans, pets and food -- they reveal the world's rarest items in each of 18 categories. Click through our gallery to see which prized possessions made the list -- and what makes them so special.
- Rarest Gem
The world's rarest gem is believed to be painite, a gem that most have never heard of. The painite is orangish or reddish brown and was first discovered in Burma in the '50s. Within the last couple of years, the source of the two original painite crystals was discovered and now a few hundred faceted stones exist. A more well-known (but still very rare) gem is the red diamond.
- Rarest Signature
He may have done a lot of writing, but with only 6 of them in existence William Shakespeare's signature is one of the rarest of all and is valued somewhere around $3 million dollars.
- Rarest Cat & Dog
Of the rarest cat breeds, the Ashera (pic. left) is the most expensive ($20K+), the Sokoke the most exotic (from the wilds of Africa), and the Egyptian Mau has the coolest history (lived with the Egyptians). As for dog breeds, the one that keeps popping up on all the "rare" lists is the Lundehund, originally bred by the Vikings to hunt Puffins. Other rare breeds include Otterhounds and Stabyhounds.
- Rarest Comic Book
One of the rarest comic books still in existence in near-perfect condition is an issue of "Amazing Spider-Man #1," rare not only because of its singularity but also because of its quality. The comic book sold for only 12 cents per copy when it was published in March 1963, and is now worth over $40K -- not an exceedingly high price for comic books -- but extremely rare in such pristine condition.
- Rarest Stamp
According to Wikipedia, the most expensive item by weight and volume is the Treskilling Yellow stamp from Sweden. It has a current estimated worth of $2.3 million. Here's what makes it so valuable: In 1858, when the currency was known as the skilling, the 3-skilling stamp ("treskilling") was printed in blue. And an 8-skilling stamp was printed in yellow. But due to a printing error, a few 3-skilling stamps were printed in yellow.
- Rarest Sea Salt
The earliest known sea salt produced by the Japanese may be the rarest of all. Called Amabito No Moshio ("Ancient Sea Salt"), unpolluted sea water is collected from the Seto-uchi inland sea, infused with seaweed to develop the "unami", and then processed by cooking in an iron kettle, put into a centrifuge, and finally, cooked over an open fire while stirring constantly. The salt is worth over $40 per pound.
- Rarest Jeans
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most valuable jeans are an original pair of Levi Strauss & Co 501 jeans aged over 115 years old which were sold to a collector in Japan for $60,000 through eBay in 2005. Quite rare indeed considering a new pair sells for $46.
- Rarest Baseball Card
In February 2007, a "near mint-mint" Honus Wagner sold for $2.3 million, at that point probably the highest sale for a baseball card in history. Then, in September 2007, the same card was reportedly sold again. This time for $2.8 million to a private collector. The card in question, aT206 Honus Wagner, was made by the American Tobacco Company in 1909. It has been called the "Mona Lisa of baseball cards."
- Rarest Record Album
In 1999, Mark David Chapman's copy of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's album Double Fantasy, autographed by Lennon five hours before Chapman fatally shot him, sold. The album had been found in a flower planter outside Lennon's home, at the scene of his murder. The record bears the forensically-certified fingerprints of Chapman, and was even used as evidence in the case against him. Price tag: $460,000. Or was it?
- Rarest Horses
The Sorraia Horse is said to be the direct descendant of the wild Iberian horse but only 200 currently remain living in South Iberia. The Tiger Horse is a rare breed which is said to have existed in Ancient Spain and the beginning of the New World. Rare in terms of its abilities and characteristics, is the Lipizzaner (pic. left). Bred for its military prowess, one of these animals can sell for up to $100,000.
- Rarest Books
There are countless rare books in the world, but by most experts' standards the rarest of them all is the Gutenberg Bible. It was the first book ever printed back in 1456, and although several hundred copies were originally printed finding a complete first edition would net you $25-$35 million. In today's market single pages alone go for $25K each, and several years ago just 1 volume (it's a 2 volume set) sold for $5.5M.
- Rarest Necklaces
In the world of rare necklaces, a couple million dollars doesn't get you much. Even ten million dollars is cheap for these babies. The most expensive necklace may likely be one built around the Blue Empress, a rare natural blue diamond. The pear-shaped diamond weighs about 14 carats. It is set in 18k white gold and surrounded with white diamonds. It's estimated to be worth $16 million.
- Rarest Wine
One of the rarest bottles of wine ever sold was purchased by Christopher Forbes for a mere £105,000 ($160,000). It was an unmarked green glass bottle with the inscription of "1787 Lafitte Th. J." (now known as Lafite and thought to be owned by Thomas Jefferson), found behind a wall in Paris.
- Rarest Vases
In 2006, a 20-inch high blue and white Yuan Dynasty vase fetched over $2 million. That sounds rare but at the end of that year, casino owner Steve Wynn paid even more for a rare vase. The small copper red and white porcelain vase, is a 14th century Ming vase (pic. left) decorated in scrolling flowers. It is from the exceptionally rare Hongwu period and went for around $10.9 million, making it the world's most expensive.
- Rarest Coins
As a general rule the more rare a coin is the more it's worth, so what's the rarest coin ever? It's a debatable subject as not all experts always agree, but if the Double Eagle isn't at the top of that list it's sure near it. Back in 2002 the only Double Eagle coin left to be in private hands (or so everybody thought) sold for $7.9 million dollars.
- Rarest Food
Served in China for over 400 years, the primary ingredient in bird's nest soup or "Caviar of the East" is saliva nests built by cave swifts. Among one of the most expensive animal products consumed by humans it is believed to aid digestion, raise libido, and even alleviate asthma as it is dissolved in water to create a gelatinous soup. In Hong Kong, a bowl costs up to $30. Red version can cost $10K per gram.
- Rarest Trip
What is the rarest trip? There's no real consensus on this, but Luxist.com blogger Deidre Woodward says that the trek to summit Mount Everest still remains among the rarest trips in the world. But even this has become something that is accessible to more people. In two months and for around $60,000 you can join a group and make the attempt of a lifetime.