This week we had an opportunity to view two first-edition copies of The Book of Mormon, at the David M Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University.
Study of the Book of Mormon is a fascinating pursuit. The origin of the book is a very interesting story. As many can attest, reading the text of the book itself can be life-altering. A former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (who was also a former US Secretary of Agriculture), Ezra Taft Benson, said that the Book of Mormon “was written for our day. “
The assemblage of the first printed edition was unusual for the time of publication, 1830. Information about the printing of the first edition by E. B. Grandin Company in New York, is given in an article on lds.org linked here. While the pages of the book were numbered consecutively at the tops, we were curious as to why some of the bottoms of the pages also had a numbering system of one about every twenty or so (we guessed) pages. The linked article explains that the printing process was for a 16-page octavo: as shown in the photo below, page 513 has the lower page number of 33 (513 divided by 33=approx. 16). The 5000 copies of the first edition were printed by hand, before the advent of the rotary printing press in the United States.
I snapped a couple of photos of random pages (approved as long as no flash was used). Later when I read the text, as shown on the page below, I felt good about the message I took away from the viewing. The time period of that page was one in which “neither were there Lamanites or any manner of Ites; but they were in one” –the story of a relatively brief time of peace in the land.