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Early Book of Mormon sells for $44,000

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A rare first edition of the Book of Mormon published in 1830 has been sold at auction for $44,000.

Dean Larsen, emeritus professor at Brigham Young University, said the successful bidder got a bargain.

"I was visiting with a book dealer in Boston discussing the value of books and between the two of us, we thought the cheapest you could ever buy one would be for $50,000," Larsen told the Times-West Virginian of Fairmont on Thursday in a telephone interview from Provo.

The successful bidder refused to identify himself or discuss his purchase.

The copy sold Thursday was part of the estate of the late George W. Bowers of Mannington, who amassed a collection of 10,000 books, jewelry, furniture, toys and other items from the 1800s to the 1940s.

Only 5,000 first edition copies were published by the Grandin Press in Palmyra, N.Y., and about 200 remain in circulation, Larsen said.

"The reason the price has gone up so much in recent years is because the Mormon Church has grown," he said.

The Book of Mormon is the scriptural keystone for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.