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Rare documents from early LDS Church history auctioned


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SALT LAKE CITY -- An auction in New York City this week featured never-before-seen rare documents, some of them important to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A Utah collector says some items sold for 10 times the asking price.

Rare books and documents collector Ken Sanders shares the auction catalogs of an incredible collection, including rare pieces from early LDS Church history.

Explorer Floyd Risvold spent decades collecting. He recently died at age 97. His 1,300-item collection, valued at $5 million, sold at the New York City auction.

Sanders, who owns Ken Sanders Rare Books in downtown Salt Lake City, said of the collection, "It's got everything from George Washington to everything in the past two centuries of American history in the original source documents. That's what makes it so exciting."

Sanders arranged for a line of credit to participate with other buyers.

"I did, in fact, place in excess of $100,000 worth of bids in this auction, and I literally did not acquire one single lot," he said.

That's because the selling prices were often 10 times the asking price, Sanders said.

A letter signed by both Joseph and Hyrum Smith sold for $72,500. A letter written by Olive Frost, a plural wife of Joseph Smith's, sold for $60,000.

A spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says the Church is purchasing a collection from Spink Shreve and does collect historical documents in an effort to preserve the Church's history.

Some documents that the Church or other libraries now own may be on exhibit to the public, but it's different with private collectors.

Sanders has rare documents -- some from Nauvoo in the mid-1880s, for example -- in his store, You can see them there or even buy them, but the documents in the auction he says most people will never see.

Sanders says the documents make him wonder what else is out there.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita

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