Manuscript world record broken

A founding text of the Mormon religion has sold for $35m, setting a world record for a manuscript.

The tome is founder Joseph Smith's dictated "printer's copy" of the original Book of Mormon. Smith gave this copy to New York printer EB Grandin in 1830 for dissemination to the world.

Book of Mormon

The published 1830 book, produced from the printer's copy - image: Library of Congress

The original manuscript was dictated by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s or 1830 and now exists in fragments only. That makes the printer's copy the earliest example of the book in its entirety (although three lines are missing).

It was sold by Mormon church the Community of Christ, who had held it since 1903. The buyer? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), another leading exponent of Mormonism.

“We hold the Book of Mormon to be a sacred text like the Bible. The printer’s manuscript is the earliest surviving copy of about 72% of the Book of Mormon text, since only about 28% of the earlier dictation copy survived decades of storage in a cornerstone in Nauvoo, Illinois,” Steven Snow, a historian at the LDS, said in a news release.  

The LDS intends to display it in the near future. 

The sale surpasses the $30.4m achieved by Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, bought my Microsoft supremo Bill Gates in 1994.

With inflation factored in, Da Vinci still holds the record.

A more recent comparison is the $9.8m achieved by George Washington's personal copy of the Acts of Congress in 2012.

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