1830 FIRST EDITION BOOK OF MORMON
Deseret Book Company has in its possession (locked away in a safe in the corporate offices) one of the first of 5000 copies of the Book of Mormon printed at the Egbert B. Grandin Press in Palmyra. This particular copy of the first edition has Martin Harris’ signature in it and was given by him to his older brother Emer.
The story is told that in the Spring of 1830, Emer walked a long distance to Palmyra where he entered the old Grandin Publishing Co. and warned his brother Martin: “The Harrises are practical people. How can you be involved in a venture with rumors of golden plated and angels.” Martin made no reply but stepped to where the Books of Mormon were falling from the press. He picked up the first copy, handed it to Emer and said, “Read for yourself Emer.” Emer took the book home, read it, and several days later returned to Martin. He placed his hand on his shoulder , looked him in the eye and said, “Its true, Martin.” Never did Emer’s testimony falter. He highly prized the precious first volume.
He later gave this book to his daughter Elvira (Alvira Harris Mosier (a daughter by his first wife Roxana Peas) who had married Benjamin Mosier. Elvira Mosier gave the book to her son Edwin P. Mosier, who inscribed his name in the book. Edwin’s wife, Ruth Pierce Bryant Mosier, gave the book to her granddaughter, Lillian Franks Magee, wife of Bert Lee Magee. Their son, Reginald Herschall Magee received the book from his parents.
William Elmer and Verna Rounds* of Glendale, California, who ran the Seventies Book Store were responsible for locating the book. A friend told them that she knew a woman confined to a rest home whose family had possession of a First Edition Book of Mormon. The Rounds contacted this woman and learned that her cousin, Reginald Magee, had possession of the book. When they contacted Magee, he offered them the book for $500 and they purchased it. They were later offered $1000 by Deseret Book for the book which they accepted.
Along with the Book of Mormon, the Rounds received and sold to Deseret Book Store a Church of England Prayer Book owned by Nathan Harris, father of Emer and Martin. It bears his signature in two pages, along with the statement: “His Book, Kirtland, Ohio, A.D. 1833”.
*It is interesting to note that Verna Rounds is Ann Harris’ great great aunt and Elmer Rounds is Laurie Harris’ great uncle.