• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2011

    Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

    12 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 94

    [MORMON CHURCH]. SMITH, Joseph, et al. Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. And Compiled by Joseph Smith, Junior, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams. [Presiding Elders of that Church]. Proprietors. Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & Co., for the Proprietors. 1835.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    [MORMON CHURCH]. SMITH, Joseph, et al. Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. And Compiled by Joseph Smith, Junior, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams. [Presiding Elders of that Church]. Proprietors. Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & Co., for the Proprietors. 1835.

    18o. 5¾ x 3 7/8 in. Title verso with copyright notice, indices and "Notes to the Reader" (correcting several errata), three blank leaves at end. (Light browning, scattered minor stains, leaf B5 [pp.25-26] with small tear or paper flaw in lower margin affecting 4 or 5 letters on p.26). Contemporary plain sheep, spine titled in gilt "Doctrine & Covenants." (Worn, scrape to upper board, spine lettering nearly obscured).

    A FINE, COMPLETE COPY OF THE "DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS" IN UNSOPHISTICATED, UNRESTORED ORIGINAL CONDITION

    FIRST EDITION. In 1833, three years after the Church was formally organized, an important collection of Joseph Smith's revelations, previously circulated in manuscript, was sent to the press at Zion (Independence, Missouri), with the intention of issuing 10,000 copies, under the title of The Book of Commandments. But in July 1833, while the sheets were only partially printed, an anti-Mormon mob attacked the print-shop, destroyed most of the finished printed sheets, scattered the type on the press and even tore down the building housing the press. Miraculously, a few of the completed sheets were salvaged, and some were bound up, but only a handful of copies, all incomplete, are today extant (see census of institutional copies in Crawley, p.43). (A previously unrecorded copy was sold here at Christie's, 29 October 2001, lot 96, $350,000).

    After resettling at Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams (the elders named here on the title) plus the printer W.W. Phelps, were appointed to oversee the editing and publication of a new, revised and greatly expanded collection. In the interim, a number of the revelations had undergone significant revision. The expanded compilation was entitled The Doctrine and Covenants. A copyright was granted by the Ohio District Court on 14 January 1835 and by August, the first 1000 copies were at the bindery in Cleveland; these shortly went on sale, priced $1.00 a copy. Sabin describes its contents: "the first part consists of lectures on faith...with questions and answers, pp. 5--74; the second part, "Covenants and Commandments," contains the revelations included in the earlier "Book of Commandments," differently arranged, and considerably revised, with some additional revelations for that period as well as for the years 1832 to 1834, followed by two articles, one on "Marriage," and the other, "Of Governments and Laws in General," the whole making 102 numbered sections, pp. 75--254. The minutes of the General Assembly of August, 1835, relating to the publication...and the adoption of the articles, fill pp. 255--257; the two indexes, one chronological...the other alphabetical, pp. i--xxiii; and notes to the reader on the errata to be corrected, p. XXV."

    RARE. In spite of the relatively large edition (generally believed to be 3,000 copies), the book is quite rare. Crawley lists some 21 institutional holdings. Only three copies have sold at auction since 1975 (the last in 1989) though several copies have changed hands privately, one recent example, with restorations, for $58,500. Flake 2869; Crawley, no.22; Sabin 83152; A Mormon Fifty 5; The Scallawagiana Hundred 8; Howes S624; Graff 711.

    Provenance: Purchased near Astabula, Ohio (near Kirtland).


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Pre-Lot Text

    ANOTHER PROPERTY