The Book of Mormon at CC

Book of Mormon spineNo one had requested our copy of the first edition of The Book of Mormon in at least fifteen years, but that all changed last month. First one request, then another, and then eighty Mormon visitors in one day, broken up into four groups in order not to overcrowd the reading room.

The Book of Mormon, the foundational text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was first published in Palmyra, NY in 1830. 5000 copies were printed, of which at least 144 are currently in libraries. book-of-mormon-deseret-alphabet-1Joseph Smith’s text has been reprinted hundreds of times and translated into many languages and alphabets, including Brigham Young’s Deseret alphabet (one of several alphabets developed to simplify spelling in the 19th century, including one invented by Melvil Dewey, yes, he of the card catalog system).

The first edition of the book contains a number of typographical errors, including page 487 printed as 48, and, in some copies (not ours), “rumderers” for “murderers” on page 521. (For a full list, see Janet Jenson’s “Variations between Copies.”) [Addendum, January 2016: volunteer JoAnn Hendershot has discovered that the CC copy of The Book of Mormon also has page 212 printed as 122. She went through Jenson’s list and found no other variations in our copy.]

Book values change with the times, and the monetary value of this book has increased exponentially. According to library records, Colorado College purchased our copy for $250 in 1962. It was one of the first purchases made using the Hulbert Fund, honoring Archer Butler Hulbert, CC professor and scholar of the American West. The book is now worth perhaps $100,000. Our copy, however, is not for sale.

Book of Mormon purchase


2 thoughts on “The Book of Mormon at CC

  1. LeeAnn Wankasky

    I have Deseret alphabet Book of Mormon I am considering putting up for sale. I am not sure where to go. The cover has come off the book.

    1. ccspecialcollections Post author

      Hello, LeeAnn! I’d recommend looking the book up at You’ll probably find several copies for sale at various prices. Condition is an important factor in the value of old books, of course (it sounds like you knew that already). If it turns out you’d like to sell the book, you can try doing it yourself on EBay or something similar, or you can go through an antiquarian book dealer in your area (in Colorado Springs I recommend Clausen Books). Good luck!


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