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N.Y. auction to include rare LDS Church items

Deseret News, USA
Dec. 4, 2003
Lynn Arave • Thursday December 4, 2003

Three rare printed works from the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highlight the Americana items to be auctioned Thursday, by Swann Galleries in New York City.

The Mormon Church
Given that the theology and practice of the Mormon Church violates essential Christian doctrines, Mormonism does not represent historical, Biblical Christianity, is not a Christian denomination, and is not in any way part of the Christian church.

The auction of “Printed and Manuscript Americana” includes 16 issues ofThe Reflector newspaper, printed in Palmyra, N.Y., from 1829-30; a complete Book of Mormon published in March of 1830; and the second Mormon hymnal in Welsh from 1849.

The Reflector contains portions of Joseph Smith’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon that preceded the printing of the book itself, numbers 1-16, from December 1829 to April 1830. This advance printing also sparked a controversy between Smith and the publisher.

Like other early copies of the Book of Mormon, it includes no verse numbers, footnotes or cross references. Estimated worth is $50,000-$75,000.

“It’s pretty scarce,” Jeremy Markowitz, specialist in manuscripts for Swann, said. “There are only seven known copies.”

He said these other copies are found in the expected places including LDS Church archives, Brigham Young University and the Library of Congress.

The last time a Reflector was auctioned was in 1968 for $7,000.

The complete Book of Mormon was published two weeks before the organization of the LDS Church and is in the original binding. It is the only edition that names Joseph Smith as the author and is also estimated to be worth $50,000-$70,000.

Markowitz said although this is a true first edition, it is not as rare as the other two LDS items.

The hymnal is printed in Welsh but inscribed in English by the publisher to Brigham Young. Its worth is estimated at between $10,000 and $15,000. There are only three other known copies.

The Truth Teller, a short-lived monthly journal of the Hedrickite sect of former Mormons, is also being auctioned. Printed from August 1864-June 1865, it is estimated to be worth $1,000-$1,500.

Other Americana items to be auctioned include “The Lost Journal ” of John Fontaine, which recounts his voyage to Virginia in the second decade of the 1800s (value $10,00-$15,000) and a wanted poster by the War Department offering a $100,000 reward for the capture of Abraham Lincoln’s murderer (worth $15,000-$25,000).

The auction also includes many U.S. government documents from the 19th century and some American almanacs.

The morning session begins at 10:30, and the afternoon session starts at 2:30. All items to be sold were on display in the N.Y. Swann Gallery, 104 E. 25th St., through Wednesday.

More information is available online at, or by calling Markowitz at 212-254-4710, Ext. 27.

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