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First edition copy of the Book of Mormon on auction block

Published: Monday, April 7 2014 2:00 p.m. MDT

A first edition copy of the Book of Mormon with an estimated value of more than $40,000 is set to be auctioned this week at the Printed & Manuscript Americana auction in New York Tuesday.

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT with the Book of Mormon scheduled to come up after 3 p.m.

Rick Stattler, director of Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Auction Galleries, said the book was discovered in an estate auction as part of a box of books that sold for $220. It once belong to a man named Guy H. Bevington (1889-1958) of West Bridgewater, Pa., who wrote his name in the book.

Stattler was able to confirm that Orson Pratt, an early apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, preached the gospel in Bridgewater (which is not far from Kirtland, Ohio, where the church was based then) in November 1835. According to an entry in Pratt's published journal, he baptized two Bridgewater residents and "parted with two Books of Mormon."

The LDS Church printed 5,000 copies of the first edition. The book's title page lists Joseph Smith as the "author and proprietor."

"It seems possible that this was one of the Books of Mormon distributed by Pratt in 1835, but that would probably be impossible to prove," Stattler said in an email to the Deseret News.

In 2007, another first edition copy signed by Orson Pratt set a Swann Galleries record when it sold for $150,000, Stattler said.

"More typically, a complete copy like this will bring between $40,000 and $60,000, which is the pre-auction estimate we've set," Stattler said.

To see photos of the first edition Book of Mormon or other items in the auction, visit swanngalleries.com. Bidders can make arrangements to place bids in advance, online, live or over the phone. For more information, visit invaluable.com or call 212-254-4710.

Email: ttoone@deseretnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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