Scarce First Edition of "The Book of Mormon,"
Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon: An Account
Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of
Nephi...By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor. Palmyra:
Printed by E. B. Grandin, for the Author, 1830.
the First Publication of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
First edition of "The Book of Mormon." Octavo (7.3125 x 4.5625 inches; 186 x 115 mm.). iv, 5-584 pages. The final two leaves of text (pages 585, 586, 587, and 588, containing the end of Chapter IX of the "Book of Moroni," and all of Chapter X) have been torn out, resulting in the loss of a portion of the gutter margin and short tears into the text of the two preceding leaves (pages 581/582 and 583/584), as well as the leaf containing "Testimonies of Three Witnesses" of the original gold plates (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris) on the recto, and "And Also The Testimony of Eight Witnesses" (Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith) on the verso, and the final blank leaf. This copy also without the four-page index, "References to the Book of Mormon," issued at a later date and not usually present.
Contemporary sheep, rebacked, with original spine laid down and with new strip of leather at foot of spine. Smooth spine divided into six compartments by double gilt fillets, with black leather label ruled and lettered in gilt in the second compartment. Edges stained blue, with faint blue marks visible at the upper edge of several leaves; red library stamp removed from top and bottom edge. Binding rubbed and worn, with boards exposed at corners and lower board edges; head of spine chipped. Lacking front flyleaf and rear free endpaper (and flyleaf?). Some foxing and browning, as usual; slight cockling; dampstain to outer portion of text throughout (heavier in places); a few additional small stains or smudges. Half-inch tear to lower blank corner of title leaf and to lower margin of pages 491/492; three-quarter-inch tear to upper margin of pages 117/118; quarter-inch tear to lower margin of pages 503/504 and to upper margin of pages 553/554, 555/556, and 557/558; a few additional tiny marginal tears or nicks. Pages 185/186 and 187/188 crumpled at outer margin, with a few short tears; lower corner of pages 435/436 to 443/444 crumpled, with short tear to pages 441/442 and 443/444; pages 545/546 curled at outer edge. Two tiny holes in the text on pages 167/168, touching a couple of letters; small hole in text on pages 389/390, affecting two letters on both recto and verso. A few corners creased. A good copy, in its original binding, of a book which has become increasingly difficult to find in nice condition.
Embossed library stamp of William Jewell College Library in upper corner of title leaf and pages 99/100, 199/200, 299/300, 399/400, 499/500, and 583/584. Front free endpaper with early ink signature "March 20. 1832 / Williston;" additional faint ink ownership inscription in upper corner of front front free endpaper; previous owner's blue ink stamp in lower corner of front free endpaper. Early ink inscription on rear pastedown: "Louis II / L M." Early ink "X" in upper margin of page 310.
Church 1342. Crawley 1. Crawley & Flake, A Mormon Fifty, 1. Flake 595. Grolier, 100 American, 37. Howes S623. Sabin 83038. Streeter IV, 2262.
Please visit HA.com/6148 for an extended description of this lot.
"This is the first publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the church having been organized with six charter members, April 6, 1830, just after the book had been finished at the press. According to Smith [1805-1844], a revelation was given to him by an angel in September, 1823, when he was informed of the purpose of the visitation, and where the inscribed records were deposited, in the hill of 'Cumorah,' now called Mormon Hill, near the village of Manchester, Ontario County, N.Y., about six miles south of Palmyra, and where they had remained hidden since about the year 420 A.D. After many other visitations, these records ['engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold'] were delivered into his hands, in September, 1827; and when the translation was completed in 1829, they were returned to the angel...The translation was dictated mostly to Oliver Cowdery, who acted as scribe. On its completion the copy right was secured and a contract made in 1829, with Egbert B. Grandin, publisher of the 'Wayne Sentinel', at Palmyra, to print and bind five thousand copies for three thousand dollars...To guard against possible loss, a transcript of the original manuscript was made, and portions of this were carried daily to the printer. When the printing was finished, the two manuscripts were kept, the original by Joseph Smith, the other by Oliver Cowdery. Smith deposited his manuscript in the corner stone of the Nauvoo House in 1841, and some years later when Major L. C. Bidamon removed the stone which had been broken it was found that moisture had ruined the manuscript. Oliver Cowdery preserved his copy, and...[it] is now in the possession of the officers of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at Independence, Missouri. It contains 464 pages. Some pages show the marks of the printer, and some are cut in takes for the typesetter" (Sabin).
"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 few copies have a four-page index, in double columns, titled References to the Book of Mormon, but this was printed later, probably in Kirtland about 1835, and is not intrinsic to the book" (Crawley).
"This is the First Edition of the Mormon Bible, in which polygamy and freemasonry were prohibited. In subsequent editions the former doctrine was changed so as to permit the Saints to have a plurality of wives" (Church). "On this flimsy foundation was reared America's most successful theocracy, its most enduring communal movement. In the first edition only was Smith named as author; in all subsequent ones he is designated as translator. The first edition was also the only one carrying his two-page preface" (Wright Howes S631).
The first edition of the Book of Mormon contains a number of variants; Crawley concludes that "very few copies of the book exist which are entirely identical." No priority of these states has been determined, and of seventy copies surveyed by Jenson, sixty were determined to be unique. This copy contains the following errors listed as having been corrected by Jenson (Table 1): page 212 is incorrectly numbered 122; pages 342, line 18, and 343, lines 1 and 2, read "River Sidon" instead of "river Sidon;" page 343, line 10, read "lands, and" instead of "lands and;" page 350, line 17, reads "judges" instead of "Judges"; page 351, line 38, reads "armors" instead of "armours"; page 393, line 4, reads "neither does" instead of "neither do;" page 487 is incorrectly numbered 48; page 514, line 2, reads "maybe" instead of "may be;" page 575, line 15, reads "elder priest" instead "elder or priest;" and page 576, lines 17/18, read "unto the baptism" instead of "unto baptism." In addition, this copy contains one of the errors listed as having not yet been discovered in a corrected state: on page 426, line 34, the "3" has only partially dropped out. See Janet Jenson, "Variations between Copies of the First Edition of the Book of Mormon," Brigham Young University Studies, Volume 13, Number 2 (Winter 1973), pages 214-222.
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