Book of Mormon Sets New Record for Most Expensive Manuscript Ever Sold | Manuscripts and letters

The printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon was sold to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) for $ 35 million (£ 26 million), setting what would be a new record for the most expensive manuscript ever sold.

The document is a handwritten copy of the original manuscript dedicated by Joseph Smith, according to the newspaper belonging to LDS the Deseret News. It was acquired by the Fellowship of Christ Mormon Church, a faith created by the early Mormons that was previously known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and which also views the text as sacred.

Community of Christ announced the sale price, claiming it was the highest ever paid for a manuscript, beating Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ purchase of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester for $ 30.8 million. dollars in 1994.

“As far as I know, this is probably the record for a manuscript,” said Mark James of antique booksellers Bernard Quaritch. “But obviously $ 31 million in 1994 would be worth a lot more now.”

The first two pages of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Photography: Cody Bell

Rare book dealer and author Rick Gekoski was also unable to name another manuscript that made more money at auction: “It seems a remarkably high price, but with a willing seller and buyer, it does. might happen. There are certainly many articles that would go further… the Dead Sea Scrolls; one of the four original Magna Cartas – or perhaps Hamlet’s manuscript? It would be a nice board game to imagine the others.

According to Mormon belief, in 1827 Smith found gold plaques engraved with ancient Egyptian writings. He translated them with God’s help and they are considered by Mormons to be a companion of the Bible. According to the Deseret News, the printer’s copy was given by Smith to the printer, EB Grandin, in New York City in 1830, and it was used to define the type of the first edition of the Book of Mormon. The manuscript was then given by scribe Oliver Cowdery to the first Mormon church member David Whitmer, who passed it on to his grandson, who then sold it in 1903 to the Community of Christ, who the has held so far.

“We view the Book of Mormon as a sacred text like the Bible. The printer’s manuscript is the oldest copy of about 72% of the text of the Book of Mormon, since only about 28% of the previous dictation copy survived decades of storage in a cornerstone in Nauvoo, in the ‘Illinois. says Steven Snow, historian and LDS recorder.

The LDS said “generous donors” enabled it to acquire the document. He plans to exhibit the manuscripts to the public in the coming months.

Community of Christ said in a press release that the sale didn’t mean he was changing his belief. “Church leaders know that abandoning this document will cause sadness and grief for some members. We feel sad too, ”he said. “However, the church’s use of [it] as Scripture and our appreciation and respect for our history does not depend on possession of the printer’s manuscript. Discontinuation of this material does not affect the rights of Community of Christ to publish and to protect the copyrights of its editions of the Book of Mormon. When a decision had to be made, we chose the welfare of the people and the preservation of the present and future mission of the church rather than owning this document.

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