Human skin was used to bind Edgar Allan Poe's book "The Gold Bug"

Anita Durairaj
Image of Edgar Allan Poe daguerreotype from 1893Photo byAmelia Poe; Public Domain Image

The Gold Bug is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849). The story was first published in 1843.

The plot is about a man, William Legrand, who is bitten by a gold-colored bug. Legrand's servant believes that Legrand is becoming insane so he invites Legrand's friend to pay him a visit.

All the men are eventually pulled into an adventure after deciphering a secret message that will lead to buried treasure.

The Gold Bug was published in two installments in a newspaper. It became popular and 300,000 copies were circulated.

In 1845, the Gold Bug was published as a French translation, Le Scarabeé d'Or.

One of the French-translated versions of the Gold Bug is purportedly bound in a piece of human skin.

Published in 1892 by E. Dentu, the book was sold in 2016 by PBA Galleries, an auction house.

The book was bound in brown leather-backed marbled boards. The leather was decorated with a sickle, a shovel, and an image of a gold bug descending into a skull.

The binding leather that is thought to have been made from human skin was stamped in gilt and inside the front cover was an inscription,

“Dear John – What a tribute to the morbid death-loving Poe to find the ‘Gold Bug’ in human skin.”

A second note was written in the front of the dust jack and read,

"Poe's Gold Bug in French - bound in a piece of human hide."

The skin had not been tested but the auction house stated that they had no reason to doubt the binder's claim.

The human-skin bound book was purchased for $1020 in 2016 by an unknown buyer.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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