‘Little Red Book’ Signed by Chairman Mao Sells for $250,000 at Auction

The first edition was a gift for the wife of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister.

Signed 'Little Red Book' (1966). Image Courtesy of RR Auction.

Boston-based auction house R.R. Auction has sold an English language, first edition ‘Little Red Book’ of quotations by Chairman Mao, for $250,000. The 312-page text was signed by the Chinese dictator in October 1966 for the wife of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Sharifuddin Pirzada.

Mao Zedong (毛泽东) was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 until his death in 1976 and chairman of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1959. Mao’s book was first printed in Chinese in 1964, produced by the People’s Liberation Army.

Signed 'Little Red Book' (1966). Image Courtesy of RR Auction.

Signed ‘Little Red Book’ (1966). Image Courtesy of RR Auction.

The book contains 267 aphorisms from the leader’s writing and speeches on topics including the communist party, war, patriotism, and the People’s Army. In order to achieve the goal of every citizen of China owning a copy of the Little Red Book, hundreds of new printing houses were built in the country.

R.R. Auction’s copy features a red vinyl cover—the reason for the book’s nickname—and an embossed title and star. The chairman signed the book’s frontispiece in blue fountain pen around his official portrait of 1959, taken when he was 66 years old.


After the start of the Cultural Revolution of 1966—in which Mao’s government launched a political upheaval to cement communism in the country—Pirzada was the first foreign statesman invited to the Chinese government on an official diplomatic visit. “Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Peking, 25th October 1966” is written in blue ballpoint pen on the opening page, and Mao signing the ‘Little Red Book’ for Pirzada was captured on film.

Executive Vice President of RR Auction Bobby Livingston said about the sale that “the significance of Mao Zedong’s ‘Little Red Book’ resonates not only in its intrinsic value but also in its role as a tangible link to a critical period in global diplomacy”.

Chairman Mao signing RR Auction's 'Little Red Book' for Foreign Minister Sharifuddin Pirzada (1966).

Chairman Mao signing RR Auction’s ‘Little Red Book’ for Foreign Minister Sharifuddin Pirzada (1966).

The book was Lot 4023 in RR Auction’s “Remarkable Rarities” sale, which began on January 19 and concluded on February 22. Other highlights from the sale included a check signed by George Washington (sold for $135,473), an original handwritten music manuscript for the opening ‘Star Wars Main Title’ theme by John Williams (sold for $49,290), and a melted wristwatch frozen at the detonation time from the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing (sold for $31,113). The Remarkable Rarities sale totaled $1,152,538.

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