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"Adam fell, that men might be;
and men are, that they might have joy." p. 65

 

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 [NY]: Printed by E. B. Grandin, for the Author., 1830.

 

 

18½ cm. (binding 19 cm. = 7½ inches tall).  iv, [5]-588, [2] pp. COLLATED COMPLETE. Leather binding with gilt-lettered spine label, all pages, and all flyleaves are original, in desirable condition. See below for details.

$ 65,000::SOLD:: *

*PRICE NOTE: I sold this book for a friend who has done many business favors for me over the years. I therefore offered to sell this book for him but waive my usual commission fee (10%), thus reducing the actual price paid to $58,500.

 

FIRST EDITION. Flake 595; Crawley 1; Howes S623; Grolier Club List of 100 Influential American Books; Sabin 83038; A Mormon Fifty, 1.

Five thousand copies were printed 1829-30 on the third floor of the Grandin Building which stands on the north side of Main Street in Palmyra Village. Luther Howard, on the second story, saw to the binding, and by the end of March 1830, sent copies down for sale in the walk-in store. Having thus descended from the Celestial level to that of earth, many copies were ultimately consigned to outer darkness. The few which stagger back from their extended missions find eager friends waiting, and are welcomed home as the collector's prize.

The creasing which is seen in the title page, at right, is a hallmark of the first-edition Book of Mormon, and is not a flaw. It was caused by the stretching of the dampened paper during the impression of the type, compounded by the bulk of the thick textblock under pressure in the press and the binding.

It is difficult to illustrate a page like this with utter precision. Having a value, by itself, of perhaps $25,000 or more, however, this leaf is crucial, so I have worked hard to adjust the photograph to show the exact level of staining. The original will not disappoint, in comparison to its image here. The paper is quite strong, and can be handled intelligently without concern of harming it.

 

 

BINDING:   Original calf; original black gilt-lettered leather label on the spine. Original gilt double fillets (lines) are still present on the spine, if faded. In 1995, I had minor restoration work performed on this book, strengthening the front joint (where the front cover attaches to the spine), spine cap areas, and portions of the spine. The fading gold lines were also touched up, lightly. The work was done so well that I am not able to locate, precisely, every small fragment which may have been restored. The binding is nearly all original, however (I should think 95%), and is strong and attractive. The work was done meticulously, and the book will lie open by itself as it should, more or less, as shown in the illustration at the top of this page.

 


The binding still exhibits an original binder's leather patch on the front cover (done so well, in 1830, that it barely shows in the photograph above). These patches were very common on first-edition Books of Mormon, and are seen on a high percentage of copies. A lot of animals gave their all, so that the 5,000 copies could be bound, so every piece of leather was precious. I do not consider the presence of an 1830 patch to be a defect or a detraction from the value of the book.

 

PAGES: All pages and flyleaves are present. All are original to this book. Nothing is missing, and there are no tears worth mentioning, except that the first, blank flyleaf had tears in its center which were repaired using japanese tissue. The page edges are quite even and nearly unworn. There is no writing on the printed pages, except for a very desirable 1832/1876 pencil ownership record on the last page (see PROVENANCE, below).

Foxing (the mottled page staining seen in the great majority of first-edition Books of Mormon) is light to medium, slightly darker in some areas, but never extreme. I want to specify that the unnatural whiteness suggested by the picture at the top of this page is the result of daylight glancing across the pages: they are, in fact, foxed as described. Pages 19-466 and 481-end have a small damp stain area in the lower blank margin, approximately the size of a nickel coin. This is generally light to medium, but is darker and somewhat larger on some pages, particularly at the end of the book.

IN SUMMARY, this is quite a nice copy of a book which is difficult to obtain in such condition. To classify it as "very good" or by some similar simple term would not be as useful or exact as to consider carefully the particular details I supply above. I would say that most copies of the Book of Mormon which I handle are in lesser condition than this one. When I first examined it, I was certainly pleased and pleasantly surprised.

 

PROVENANCE: I obtained this book ten years ago from a well-known and highly reputable colleague, and then commissioned the minor restoration work which is described above. It may have been owned by Latter-day Saints from the very beginning. On the second flyleaf at the front is this inscription, with a nearly identical inscription repeated on a flyleaf at the back:

E. M. Howards
Book
A Present from my
Brother
Richard Howard
of Ohio -

And on the final printed page, in the margin above the testimony of Eight Witnesses, another inscription:

 

E M Howard's Book
a present from My Brother
Richard Howard of Ohio
in the Year 1832 This -
Written this 17th of April 1876

There was at least one Mormon RICHARD HOWARD in the "right" part of Ohio of the 1830s, mentioned in the Kirtland Elder's Quorum Record . . ., "anointed" an elder on March 2, 1836: "Richard Howard A[g]e 53 . . ." (ed. by Lyndon W. Cook and Milton V. Backman, Jr. [Provo, Utah: Grandin Book Co., 1985), p. 9].

"Richard Howard" next appears in LDS history among a tiny, midnight congregation which had to meet secretly with some of the Twelve to lay the cornerstone for the Far West Temple in Missouri in the earliest hours of April 26, 1839. "On the morning of the 26th of April, 1839," explained Wilford Woodruff in his journal,

"notwithstanding the threats of our enemies that the revelation which was to be fulfilled this day should not be fulfilled; notwithstanding ten thousand of the Saints had been driven out of the state by the edict of the governor; and notwithstanding the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith, with other leading men, were in the hands of our enemies in chains and in prison, we moved on to the Temple grounds in the city of Far West, held a council, and fulfilled the revelation and commandment given to us. We also excommunicated from the Church thirty-one persons who had apostatized and become its enemies. The 'Mission of the Twelve' was sung, and we repaired to the southeast corner of the Temple ground, where, with the assistance of Elder Alpheus Cutler, the master workman of the building committee, we laid the southeast chief cornerstone of the Temple, according to revelation. There were present of the Twelve Apostles: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John E. Page. and John Taylor; they proceeded to ordain Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith to the apostleship.

"Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer, who had just been liberated from Richmond prison, were then ordained to the office of seventy.

"The Twelve then gave the parting hand to the following Saints, agreeable to revelation: A. Butler, Elias Smith, Norman Shearer, William Burton, Stephen Markham, Shadrach Roundy, William O. Clark, John W. Clark, Hezekiah Peck, Darwin Chase, RICHARD HOWARD, Mary Ann Peck, Artimesia Granger, Martha Peck, Sarah Granger, Theodore Turley, Hiram Clark, and Daniel Shearer.

"Bidding good-by to this small remnant of the Saints who remained on the Temple ground to see us fulfill the revelation and commandment of God, we turned our backs on Far West, Missouri, and returned to Illinois. We had accomplished the mission without a dog moving his tongue at us, or any man saying, 'Why do ye so?' We crossed the Mississippi river on the steam ferry, entered Quincy on the 2nd of May, and all of us had the joy of reaching our families once more in peace and safety. Thus the word of God was complied with.["]  [ Wilford Woodruff . . . History of His Life and Labors . . . Prepared for Publication By Matthias F. Cowley (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), pp. 101-2; emphasis added]

 

During the opening year of the Nauvoo era, Howard was made a high council member on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, in October 1839 (History of the Church 4:12). Was this the same Richard Howard who owned the Book of Mormon now offered here, and who gave it to his sibling in 1832? I find no other Richard Howard in early LDS Church history, but neither have I found E. M. Howard or further details. My guarantee of authenticity for this book, then, cannot also include confirmation of this hopeful association with the interesting Richard Howard just described. I have provided these details, however, as possible points for further research by the future owner of the volume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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