Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 157

Price Realized: $ 75,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 40,000 - $ 60,000
FIRST EDITION (MORMONS.) The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. 588, [2] pages. 8vo, publisher's calf, backstrip blind-tooled in seven double bands, minor wear, original black leather spine label blind-stamped "Book of Mormon"; hinges split, moderate foxing, minimal dampstaining, 3-inch closed tear to leaf 1:3, leaf 1:8 lacking 3 inches of upper corner, lacking free endpapers; early inscriptions on pastedowns, flyleaves, title page, and elsewhere. Palmyra, NY: E.B. Grandin, 1830

Additional Details

First edition of the scripture of the Mormon church, released just days before the official establishment of the church on 6 April 1830. This was the only edition listing Joseph Smith as the "author and proprietor" rather than as the translator, and the only edition with his 2-page preface. This copy has the 2 pages of witness testimony at the end, but not the index pages which were inserted in later copies. The first edition was printed with numerous variants; Crawley concludes that "very few copies of the book exist which are entirely identical." This copy includes the uncorrected sheets for 4 of the 41 variants noted in Jenson: page iv is misnumbered "vi"; page 212 is numbered "122"; page 521 reads "rum-derers"; and pages 575 reads "elder priest" instead of "elder or priest." See Janet Jenson, "Variations between Copies of the First Edition of the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies 13 (Winter 73), 214-222. Crawley 1; Flake 595; Grolier Hundred 37; Howes S623; Sabin 83038; Streeter sale IV:2262.
The Book of Mormon was printed not only for believers, but as a missionary tract. The present example found its way into the hands of a man named John McCoy in 1837, presumably somewhere near Kirtland, OH. He signed the book in several places, and wrote on page 158, "Joseph McCoy 1837, this nothing but the trooth I think." However, the inscriptions on the front flyleaf dated 1838 tell a different story: "I say Jo Smith is a raskal. The Mormon Bible, believe not this book." On the rear flyleaf, someone else (signature David Hanna?) has told their version of the Solomon Spaulding story, and on verso in a third hand is written "Believe not this record. . . ." Finally, Ida Blaker inscribed the verso of the front flyleaf on 9 October 1906, without comment. The consignor purchased it at a Maine antique store in the 1990s.