Rare first edition of Book of Mormon fetches $97,900 at auction

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GENEVA, N.Y. (AP) -- A rare first edition of the Book of Mormon once owned by a Utah newspaper music critic fetched $97,900 at auction Wednesday.

The 177-year-old book was sold to an undisclosed West Coast buyer who paid a 10 percent commission on top of a winning bid of $89,000, said auction manager Mark Witmer of Hessney Auction Co. in Geneva.

Mormons consider the Book of Mormon to be scripture on par with the Bible. Church founder Joseph Smith said he translated the book from gold plates delivered to him by an angel.

The first editions were printed and published by E. B. Grandin in 1830 in Palmyra, a western New York village near Geneva that is the birthplace of the Mormon religion. While there were roughly 5,000 copies printed, only a few hundred still exist.

In September, another first edition found in a home near Palmyra was sold here for $105,600.

"This one was probably in just a touch less better condition," Witmer said.

The book was purchased in 1944 in a bookstore in Hollywood, Calif., by Harold Lundstrom, a music critic for the Deseret Morning News and was turned over to his family in 1968, Witmer said. The seller's identity was not disclosed.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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