It took about three minutes Wednesday for a New York auction house to sell an 1830 Book of Mormon for $89,000. With the auction house commission, the price comes to nearly $98,000.
A Newport Beach, Calif., collector/investor who lost out on another first edition Book of Mormon last September was the high bidder. The collector, who prefers to remain anonymous, told the Deseret Morning News Wednesday that he plans to take the leather-bound book to a bookbinder as soon as he receives it. After it's repaired, he'll keep it in a custom-built protective box inside a safety deposit box.
He plans to wait a year, then sell the book; he expects the price by then will have risen to $125,000.
"First editions of the Book of Mormon are highly in demand," the collector said. Although first editions of the Emma Smith hymnal are worth at least five times as much, he said, a first edition Book of Mormon is still "the Holy Grail."
It's estimated that there are 500 to 600 of the first editions in existence, of the 5,000 originally printed. About 250 are owned by private collectors, 50 are owned by museums and libraries, and the rest are as yet undiscovered.
According to Mark Witmer, manager of Hessney Auction Company in Geneva, New York, the auction drew about a dozen bidders, with a starting absentee bid of $67,500.