Nerd library to end all nerd libraries

Stephen Levy toured the personal library of Priceline founder Jay Walker and discovered nerdvana: a wunderkammer piled to the rafters with the most pricelessly awesome nerd artifacts of all time -- an original Sputnik, the Thing hand from the Addams Family, a globe of the moon signed by every astronaut who's walked on it, an original of Robert Hooke's Micrographia, an Enigma machine, etc. You know, I've often turned my nose up at the absurd excesses of wealth, but this is one guy who knows how to spend several million on really rad junk.

Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects–on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor–the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you–a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.
Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker's Library


  1. Hopefully he donates all that stuff to a museaum at some point. Or at least starts one up, like Clive Cussler’s done for his exotic/classic car collection.

  2. Sweet.

    Collectibles aside, how much would it cost to replicate that place?

    Why am I thinking that this would be a great set for Adventurers’ Club style playlets . . . historical figures . . . time machine . . . . neyOOWWWWW!

  3. Amazing. He should invite Neal Stephenson over sometime. There’s someone who could fully appreciate something like this.

  4. Lets hopehe donates this to a museum. In my opinion it serves no purpose to own this much stuff. He would never have enough time to read everything here & he definitely will not be able to take it with him when he dies. … Wait a minute… perhaps he could cryogenically freeze himself. He sure looks like he has enough money for it.

  5. Oh my god, I’m in Love. I’m in Lust!

    Can I hump the Library!?!

    I swear, it looks like paradise on earth!

  6. yay for the biltmore reference. that place is amazing. i lot of really great architecture came out of railroad money. and the national park railroad lodges … wow.

  7. Makes me a sad nerd. I mean, you can’t have so much fantastic sh!t without feeling like you’ve topped out. A Sputnik should be something you dream about having, not something you display. Unless it helps you talk to girls, I guess. :/

  8. I drooled when I saw these pictures in the magazine. When it came to Sputnik and whatnot, I could care less, but dang, jewel-encrusted books? I just love the way it looks, traditional with dark woods yet modern with laser-etched glass. Sigh.

  9. ‘instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), ‘- just give me this, the rest is just souverneers

  10. Minor correction, Cory. The moon globe is signed by 9 of the 12 astronauts who have walked on the moon.

    Obviously, Mr. Walker couldn’t afford the other three.

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