Church acquires printer’s manuscript of ‘The Book of Mormon’ for $35 million

These are the first couple of pages of the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon. It is enclosed by folding the casing and then by sliding it into an additional case. Photo Courtesy: Intellectual Reserve

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 21, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has paid $35 million, provided by donors, to buy the printer’s manuscript of “The Book of Mormon” from the Community of Christ.

The two churches jointly announced the sale Wednesday night.

“Latter-day Saints revere ‘The Book of Mormon’ as the keystone of their faith, a book of scripture that witnesses of Jesus Christ like the Bible,” the LDS Church said in a news release.

Elder Steven E. Snow, Church Historian and Recorder, said in a prepared statement: “We hold ‘The Book of Mormon’ to be a sacred text like ‘The Bible.’ The printer’s manuscript is the earliest surviving copy of about 72 percent of ‘The Book of Mormon’ text, as only about 28 percent of the earlier dictation copy survived decades of storage in a cornerstone in Nauvoo, Illinois.”

The entire printer’s manuscript was published in 2015 as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It can be found in Volume Three of the Revelations and Translations series. Eventually, digital images of the entire manuscript will be posted online at

Plans are underway to display the manuscript to the public at the Church History Library in the coming months.

The Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri has owned the manuscript since 1903. In a Q&A about the sale on its website, the Community of Christ said of the printer’s manuscript:

“The Printer’s Manuscript of ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a copy of the original dictated manuscript. Oliver Cowdery served as the principle scribe. This copy was provided to the printer, E.B. Grandin, in Palmyra, New York. It became the guide by which the type was set for the first edition (1830) of ‘The Book of Mormon.’

“Less than 30 percent of the dictated manuscript has survived. The Printer’s Manuscript is virtually complete, missing only three lines of text. Community of Christ bought the Printer’s Manuscript in 1903. It was part of a collection that included several other items, including ‘The Book of Mormon’ ‘Caractors’ document.”


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