Bible Of Mormonism Founder Selling For $1.5 Million
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From member station KUER in Salt Lake City, Jenny Brundin reports.
JENNY BRUNDIN: At Ken Sanders Rare Books, Beat poetry nights and parties celebrating Sanders' friend, the late anarchist and novelist Edward Abbey, are regular happenings. But a special book is bringing in a new set of customers.
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BRUNDIN: Ken Sanders opens a locked glass case for a better look at a Bible from 1831. It belonged to the founder of what's been described as America's most famous homegrown faith: Mormonism, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Collectors knew Joseph Smith, Jr.'s family Bible was out there somewhere. Sanders recalls his reaction when the anonymous owner approached him to take it on consignment.
KEN SANDERS: Raised eyebrows. Hmm, this is interesting. In our business, you know, you always love to see something you've never seen before. And this is like a living historical artifact to the very foundations of the LDS church.
BRUNDIN: Tucked in the Bible are Smith family genealogies featuring Joseph and his first wife Emma's handwriting. They include the only correct birth and death dates for a seventh son who was never named. Experts authenticated the Bible and its origins.
SANDERS: And I had to ascertain that it didn't have any taint of Mark Hofmann about it.
BRUNDIN: The real deal, Smith's Bible, is drawing a steady stream of history buffs into Sanders' shop. Most are Mormon and they're quiet as they look reverently at the sacred text of the man they consider a prophet.
MICHAEL COX: You can't touch it, but to be that close and see the handwriting and it's very awe-inspiring.
BRUNDIN: Michael Cox showed up on a lunch break for a rare glimpse at the tattered and water-stained Bible. Paul Savage(ph), who spent at least an hour milling about, says the book represents more than one family's personal beliefs.
PAUL SAVAGE: This is of premier importance to everybody. It's an amazingly rare artifact to be put out on the market, and hopefully it goes to a good place.
BRUNDIN: Bookseller Ken Sanders believes the Bible belongs with the Mormon Church, but says the owner isn't in a position to donate it. Curt Bench, a dealer specializing in Mormon books, calls the one-and-a-half-million-dollar price tag stunning.
CURT BENCH: It would be an incredible possession for somebody today. And it really will be interesting to see just what someone is willing to pay for that book.
BRUNDIN: For NPR News, I'm Jenny Brundin in Salt Lake City.
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