Book of Mormon printing history

Posted on March 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

Book of Mormon

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I have an old copy of the Book of Mormon. It was obviously printed with reference to Orson Pratt who created the Divisions and references. It is not double columned and it has no publication page which would give me the date it was published and by whom. It has 623 numbered pages running to the very last page of text. It is a hardcover book with two names written or signed: J E Talmadge (Elder James E Talmadge I presume) and Elder A A Wallace from Independance, MO. Can you tell me when this book was published (year and place)?




What may interest you is that there are twenty distinct editions of the Book of Mormon beginning with the first printing in 1830, and culminating with the current edition, first set and printed in 1981. Rather than go into full detail, I’ll list each of the editions, then mention the ones that may be pertinent to your copy. So, here are the editions, by year;



1840 – The last to be edited by Joseph Smith

1841 – first British edition

1849 – second British edition

1852 – third British edition

1858W – a private edition published by James O. Wright, used by the RLDS Church

1874R – First official RLDS edition

1879 – first major edition by the church since 1840, published in england

1888 – large-print edition

1892R – Second RLDS edition

1902 – missionary edition

1905 – second missionary edition with some changes in text

1906 – second large-print edition

1907 – vest-pocket edition published by the Deseret Sunday School Union

1908R – third RLDS edition

1911 – third large-print edition

1920 – first major edition published by the church since 1879, published in Salt Lake City

1953R – Fourth RLDS edition

1981 – Last and current major edition by the church.

early Book of MormonKeep in mind that each edition may have been, and in later years, most certainly was, published for years before the next edition was set. So, by way of example, you could have an 1852 edition that was published in 1870 since the next major LDS edition wasn’t prepared until 1879.

The first set of numbers added to the text were by paragraph, and this was done in the 1852 edition. The text used for this edition came from stereotyped plates from the 1849 edition as well as a set of stereotyped plates from the 1840 edition.

Orson Pratt introduced the verse numbering system in the 1879 edition. The verse assignments haven’t changed since then, by the way. The text was taken from the corrected 1852 edition. Interestingly enough, the text from this edition was used from 1888 through 1907.

It wasn’t until the 1920 edition that the double-column arrangement was established along with chapter headings. Minor changes were made from earlier texts, while the 1911 text formed the bulk of the work.

The 1920 edition persisted unitl the 1981 edition which restored some of the original readings from the Original Manuscript as well as the Printers Manuscript, insofar as they were then extant.

I can’t immediately determine the specifics about the book, though the names may give a reasonable range of dates to look at. More to the point, I imagine the church’s historical department would love to have a look at the book itself. They’d also be best equipped to give you every detail possible about the publication date and other such information.


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Book of Mormon printing history - Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine
I have an old copy of the Book of Mormon. It was obviously printed with reference to Orson Pratt who created the Divisions and references. It is not double columned and it has no publication page which would give me the date

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