Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2013 Issue

The “Finest Mormon Collection in Private Hands” Offered by Michael Vinson Americana

Silvervinson

Barnard Silver (left) and Michael Vinson.

Michael Vinson Americana has acquired the core of what Peter Crawley, author of Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, called “the finest and most important Mormon collection in private hands.” Material related to the founding and early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church) is highly collectible. The first edition of the Book of Mormon is a prized and highly valuable book (prices often reaching into six figures), despite not being particularly rare, having been printed in a run of 5,000 copies.

The church was founded in the 1820s by its prophet, Joseph Smith, near the town of Palmyra in upstate New York. In 1830, he published the Book of Mormon, based on writings contained on gold tablets to which he said he had been directed by an angel. Soon thereafter, the church began a series of moves, Smith and his followers finding themselves unwelcome wherever they went. The first move was to Kirtland, Ohio, followed by a move farther west to Missouri. There, the Governor virtually invited its citizens to attack the church's followers. Smith next brought the church to Nauvoo, Illinois, but the welcome there was no better. With an internal split complicating matters, Smith was hauled off to jail in nearby Carthage, Illinois, but before a trial for “treason” to the state of Illinois could begin, a mob attacked the jail and killed Smith and his brother Hyrum.

The Mormon Church found itself in disarray, and factions split off at the time. However, a strong leader emerged in Brigham Young, and so began its pioneer era and the church as it is known today. Young led the flock on a long, cross-country journey on foot, where he declared the valley of the Great Salt Lake to be the place they would settle. The area was mostly uninhabited, and Young felt this being an inhospitable location, they would finally be left alone. It wasn't quite that easy, and the church would find itself in battles with the federal government for several decades. However, with the renunciation of the practice of polygamy in 1890, the government in Washington agreed to grant statehood to Utah, and the church finally achieved the acceptance needed to live in peace with its neighbors.

Much of the important material relating to these early, difficult times was collected over most of a lifetime by Barnard Silver, of Salt Lake City. Mr. Silver began his collection as a young man in the 1950s while working for bookseller Fred Rosenstock of Denver. A retired engineer, Silver has long been active in the Mormon Church. He has traveled much of the world and served as a mission president in Africa. While he also collected many foreign editions of the Book of Mormon, the part of his collection sold to Michael Vinson includes the highly collectible early works. While the sales price for the collection was not given, Mr. Vinson described it as “in the high six figures.” Silver plans to invest the proceeds in a venture known as Life Energy Foods.

These are a few of the items found in this collection, some so rare that you may not see another copy come to market for a very long time.

Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, by John Corrill, published in St. Louis in 1839. Corrill joined the church in Kirtland in 1831, but spent most of the coming years in Missouri. He was elected to the state legislature primarily by Mormons, and defended them against state action, but in time questioned some church doctrines and split with Joseph Smith. He left the church in 1839, but his account provides much information about the problems the church faced in Kirtland and the difficulties that arose in Missouri.

Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri, under theExterminating Order, by John P. Greene, published in 1839. This order was issued by Missouri's governor in 1838. It claimed, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace - their outrages are beyond all description.” While few Mormons were actually “exterminated” by the order, most were driven across the border to Illinois. Greene was an early convert to the Mormon Church whose wife was from the same family as Brigham Young. His book was aimed at bringing attention to the injustices done to Mormons, primarily targeted to non-Mormons who might not approve of the faith but believed in freedom and fairness towards others.

General Smiths Views of the Powers and Policies of the Government of the United States, printed in Nauvoo in 1844. This rare pamphlet came about after Joseph Smith unsuccessfully sought protection for his followers from the federal government. He had hoped other political leaders would act to protect them, but after being repeatedly rejected, he decided to run for President himself. While a primary element of his campaign was a call for strong federal action to protect persecuted minorities, he developed an entire platform for government, much not related to the Mormon faith in particular. Among his proposals was for an end to slavery by 1850, with compensation to slaveholders paid from the sale of western lands. His presidential campaign came to an end when Joseph Smith was murdered.

An authentic account of the massacre of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and Hyrum Smith, his brother, a less than objective account by Illinois lawyer and newspaperman George T.M. Davis. Davis also left upstate New York in the early 1830s, heading to southern Illinois, but his emigration was unrelated to the Mormons. They just ended up near each other after the Mormons were forced out of Missouri. Davis' account is claimed to be an objective look at Smith and his faith, but in reality is a virulently anti-Mormon polemic, aimed particularly at Smith, whom he called a fraud and every name in the book. This very rare book was published in 1844, shortly after Smith was killed.

Those interested in learning more about the collection, and obtaining a catalogue, which is expected to be available shortly, can visit the website of Michael Vinson Americana at www.michaelvinson.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, <i>El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha . . . Nueva Edición,</i> first Ibarra edition, Madrid, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Prayer Book in Latin and French, France, 1530-40s. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b><br><i>Die Ernsthaffte Christenpflicht,</i> earliest known edition of the first complete Mennonite prayer book, 1708. $300 to $500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Georg Agricola, <i>De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib V.,</i> first edition, Basel, 1546. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Frederick Ruysch, <i>Icon durae matris in concava [convexa] superficie visae,</i> with 2 mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral, first edition, Amsterdam, 1737. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, <i>Eine Neue Art von Strahlen,</i> Würzburg, 1895. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pietro Carrera, <i>Il Gioco de gli Scacchi,</i> first edition, Militello, 1617. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> William Lithgow, <i>The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures</i> [etc.], London, 1632. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Michel de Nostradamus, <i>The True Prophecies or Prognostications,</i> first complete edition in English, London, 1672. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pseudo-Methodius, <i>De revelatione facta . . . beato Methodio,</i> Basel, 1504. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Hrabanus Maurus, <i>De laudibus sancte crucis opus,</i> Pforzheim, 1503. $1,000 to $2,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions