We are pleased to offer copies of the first and second edition of the Book of Mormon for sale. Only rarely do we have the first two editions of the Book of Mormon for sale at the same time, but we are fortunate to have these scarce and valuable books now and are pleased to offer them for your consideration. Not only that, but we are offering them at discounted prices. This is an unusual opportunity to acquire one or both of these important editions of the Book of Mormon.
On June 11, 1829, Joseph Smith deposited the title page of the Book of Mormon with the clerk of the Northern District of New York and obtained a copyright. About the same time, he and Harris approached Egbert B. Grandin, publisher of the Palmyra Wayne Sentinel, about printing the book. Grandin was troubled by the adverse publicity and refused. Next they contacted Thurlow Weed, publisher of the Rochester Anti-Masonic Enquirer, who declined on the grounds that he was only a newspaper man. But he sent them to Elihu F. Marshall, a Rochester book publisher, who agreed to do the printing if payment was suitably guaranteed. With a printer in hand, Harris went back to E. B. Grandin and urged him to take on the job. After talking with friends, who assured him printing the book would be viewed only as business, and consulting with his typesetter, John H. Gilbert, Grandin agreed to print and bind in leather 5,000 copies for $3,000. As security, Harris gave Grandin a mortgage on his farm, dated August 25, 1829, which bound Harris to pay the $3,000 within eighteen months.
Gilbert also did the press work with J. H. Bortles until December 1829, when Grandin hired a journeyman pressman, Thomas McAuley. After that, McAuley and Bortles operated the press. Grandin’s press was a single-pull Smith Patented Improved Press, inked with “balls.” (It is now on display at the LDS Church’s Museum of Church History and Art.) Faced with setting a six hundred-page book, Grandin ordered a new font of type from Albany. Even so, one form of sixteen pages had to be printed and the type distributed before the next form could be set. Gilbert reported that when he was also working the press, it took nearly three days to print one form. The 1830 Book of Mormon is originally bound in brown calf, plain except for seven double bands in gilt on the backstrip with a black leather label stamped in gilt Book of Mormon. End sheets are of the same paper as the text. The copyright notice appears on the verso of the title page. A preface (pp. [iii]–iv) explains the loss of the initial 116 pages of manuscript and the revelation to Joseph Smith not to retranslate that part but to begin with the plates of Nephi. Only the 1830 edition has this preface. Pages –588 contain the main text, and the testimonies of the three and of the eight witnesses occur on both sides of the leaf following p. 588 – A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, Volume 1 by Peter Crawley.
Full leather. Original boards and binding. Spine label has a small chip missing but the gilt title is still mostly present. Minor to moderate rubbing along edges of covers and spine. Minor cracking to front and rear hinges. A small piece of clear plastic is taped across front pastedown (which could be professionally removed prior to new owner taking possession). Bottom corner of front pastedown is loose. A few pages have small closed tears that do not affect the text; the book block is cracked between pages 238 and 239; several pages have slightly uneven trimming along the bottom edge; a few pages have minor chipping and tears along the bottom edge and two pages are missing text (the chip extends into the third line of text but only affects five or six words); pages 453-456 are missing part of the right margin with text missing (this chip extends to about a half inch at it’s deepest part and approx. a dozen words on each page are missing or partially missing); There is moderate staining and foxing throughout. Previous owner’s name and date (Jesse A. Picknell, March 26th 1882) is found in ink on the title page that has bled through onto the verso of the title page. In the same hand is some commentary regarding Joseph Smith on the Preface page in which the ink also bled through to the verso. The commentary actually adds to the cachet of this copy in our opinion as the writer refers to Joseph Smith as “a child of the devil” rather than of God and makes a disparaging remark about Joseph’s father as well (“like father like son”).
Price was $80,000, NOW $75,000.00.
(click on any photo below to see it full size)
Joseph Smith and the other Church leaders contemplated a second edition of the Book of Mormon as early as the summer of 1833. But the loss of the Independence press and the preoccupation of the Kirtland shop with the Doctrine and Covenants, the hymnal, and Evening and Morning Star delayed a second edition until the winter of 1836–37.
The preface (pp. [v]–vi), signed by Parley Pratt and John Goodson, indicates that they had obtained the rights to publish a second edition of 5,000. This probably means that they helped underwrite the publication and shared in the profits accruing from its sale. In spite of the statement in the preface, the exact size of the edition is uncertain. In 1886, Ebenezer Robinson, a typesetter in the Kirtland print shop, recalled a bit tentatively that it was 3,000. This smaller number is more consistent with the relative scarcity of the 1837 Book of Mormon today.
The preface further explains that in preparation for the new edition, the first edition was “carefully re-examined and compared with the original manuscripts” by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Richard Howard has found more than two thousand changes which were written into the Printer’s Manuscript of the 1830 Book of Mormon and incorporated in the second edition, and over one thousand other changes not indicated in the manuscript. It would seem, therefore, that the 1837 Book of Mormon was printed from the corrected Printer’s Manuscript, and additional changes were made—by Cowdery?—as the book was set in type. Most of the changes are grammatical and stylistic. A few, however, are significant, for example, where “God” or “Eternal Father” on p. 25, lines 4 and 11; p. 26, line 9; and p. 32, line 11 are changed to “Son of God” or “Son of the Eternal Father.” Thus the 1837 edition is an important progenitor in the genealogy of the Book of Mormon: from it was printed the first of a sequence of British and American editions culminating in the edition now in use by the LDS Church (see items 83, 98). A note To the Reader at the end explains that although the original idea was to publish both the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants in one volume, as indicated in the preface, the publishers abandoned that idea because the two together “would make a volume, entirely too unwieldy for the purpose intended, that of a pocket companion.” A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, Volume 2 by Peter Crawley.
Original brown leather covers and spine. Five double rule gilt bands on the backstrip. The leather label is quite faded and rubbed and worn yet the gilt letters of the title remain quite readable. The leather along the edges and corners is moderately rubbed. 2 blank front and 3 blank rear endsheets. There is moderate moisture staining to the upper third of pages throughout as well as inside the front and rear covers and along the foredge. Stain is darker on the initial few pages but then quickly lightens up considerably thereafter. Approximately 20 scattered pages have been trimmed along the foredge without affecting text. Typical toning and foxing to pages throughout. The book is housed in a clamshell box. This is one of the nicest copies we have had for sale or even seen.
Price was $50,000.00, NOW $45,000.00!
(click on any photo below to see full size)