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Rare Copy of 17th-Century Book Banned by the Pope Shows Up in British Bookstore's Donation Pile

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A book believed to have been destroyed centuries ago instead turned up in the donation pile of a British bookstore.

"Varia Opuscula Theologica," translated as Various Theological Brochures, was written by the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Suarez and first published in 1599. A century later, Pope Innocent XI forbade the Latin text and ordered all of the copies be destroyed, the U.K.'s Shropshire Star reported.

But not all of them were: British bookstore owner Tom Cotton now has a rare treasure on his hands, estimated to be worth about $700.

Cotton said someone dropped it off as a donation. A stamp on the front cover indicates that it was once part of a library collection in Rome, according to the Shropshire Star.

“All of the Suarez books were burned, but this obviously survived,” Cotton said. “It is in Latin and is very obscure. It looks like it came from one of the famous Catholic colleges in Rome.”

Confident that what he'd just acquired was not only extremely rare but also worth a lot of money, Cotton brought in a volunteer who was "used to dealing with antiquarian books" and who could look up its value.

As rare as the chances are, this isn't the first time Cotton has received a book worth this much. The shop owner said the most valuable book he ever got was a first-edition signed copy of the classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," worth about $800.

(H/T: New York Post)

Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

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