Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 171A

Price Realized: $ 112,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 75,000
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, original black leather spine label blind-stamped "Book of Mormon," front board skillfully replaced with period board, other minor conservation to binding; dampstaining, damage to front flyleaf and first 4 text leaves professionally stabilized, moderate soiling, numerous early underlinings and marginal notes, many of them keyed to a list of points in the endpapers. 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 6 of the 41 variants noted in Jenson: page 212 is numbered "122"; page 393 reads "neither does", page 487 is numbered "48"; page 514 reads "maybe" instead of "may be"; page 575 reads "elder priest" instead of "elder or priest"; and page 576 reads "un-to the baptism." 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.

Provenance: an early (but probably not original) owner was Nicholas Summerbell (1816-1889), who signed the front flyleaf and title page, and also added the date 1858. Summerbell was born in Peekskill, NY, was a Protestant clergyman in Cincinnati by 1850, and in 1858 became the founding president of Union Christian College in Meron, Indiana. During the Civil War he served as chaplain of the 115th Indiana Infantry. He spent his final years in the Cincinnati area. The signatures are a good match for the one seen on his 1888 passport application, and the notations to the volume appear to have been done during a careful reading by a scholar of religion.

This past year, the book was found in Wolfeboro, NH, a popular Mormon summer resort town. A resident asked her grandson to remove some boxes of rubbish to the trash, and he noticed this book inside. It has since been conserved, and a new front board added which might well pass for the original.