Rare Book Monthly
Articles - October - 2007 Issue
In The News: Burned Books, George Washington Baseball Cards, and the Alibris Nickel
Another surprising auction took place in upstate New York two weeks ago. A first edition of the Book of Mormon was discovered in an attic of a house being cleared out near Joseph's Smith's original homestead in Palmyra. The copy was unrestored and in its original binding. While these first editions are not rare, perhaps 10% of the original print run of 5,000 still extant, they have become highly collectible. Usually, they end up at only the largest auction houses, or sold privately by major booksellers. However, this one went up for sale at the Hessney Auction in Geneva, New York, a town with a population of 14,000 (Geneva is no closer to New York City than is the state of Virginia).
The book ended up with Hessney as they had been called on to clean out the home of an older man who was moving out. It was found at the bottom of a box of books of considerably less value. However, while the auction house and its location may be obscure, the major collectors did not miss the opportunity. Bids came in by phone with the undisclosed winner paying $105,600 all in. That is if anything on the high side of what would be anticipated for this highly collectible first edition.
Finally, we note that Biblio.com, the third largest of the used book sites has made a $15,000 contribution, and pledged physical assistance to its BiblioWorks charitable organization. BiblioWorks has been providing assistance in bringing libraries and literacy to some of the poorer regions of Bolivia, along with aid closer to its home base in North Carolina. Such good works reflect well on the book trade as a whole, and Biblio deserves our thanks for representing us so positively.