1851 “Pearl of Great Price” Book

Value (2006) | $45,000 Auction$55,000 Auction

GUEST:
This is a first edition of The Pearl of Great Price. It was printed in Liverpool, England, in 1851. I had a great-great-grandfather who joined the Church in England in 1840. And I think that this must have been one of his possessions. My grandfather came to America in 1884.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And brought this with him.

APPRAISER:
Well, as you pointed out, this is the Liverpool edition--

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
--of The Pearl of Great Price. Published by the British Mission in 1851. This was the third volume of Mormon scripture. Joseph Smith had published The Book of Mormon in 1830, followed by the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. And this volume wasn't published until after his death. The signature on the inside board here of Joseph Smith, uh, isn't that of the author and translator of The Pearl of Great Price, because Joseph Smith was martyred in 1844 and this book wasn't published until 1851.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The second edition of this book wasn't published until 1878, one year after Brigham Young's death. So this is... an early volume of LDS scripture. The salmon wraps here are original. This is the half title, and the title page… with the '51 date, and then I'm going to turn the book all the way over. It's in these crudely printed homemade wrappers, but what they've done all these years is protect this salmon wrapper on the back that lists other current books and their prices of the day. And that's what makes this copy extremely unusual. Pearls of Great Prices aren't all that unusual, but copies in these original wrappers are almost unheard of. And that, coupled with one other thing that I'll show you here: this has the facsimile from the Book of Abraham--

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
--the fold-out plate. There are three of them in here. This is one. But this plate, because of the fold-out nature of the plate--

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
--are almost always missing from the book. So it's very, very unusual that this page is still intact in the book. Ordinary copies sell for perhaps $7,500 to $10,000. But because your copy has both the front wrapper and the rear wrapper, I would estimate it would fetch somewhere between $45,000 to $55,000.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Did you have any idea it was worth that much money?

GUEST:
No, I didn't.

APPRAISER:
How have you been taking care of it?

GUEST:
I just had it in a closet.

APPRAISER:
Well, you might want to consider, uh, having a custom, acid-free box made for it that will keep it in the condition that it's in now. Well, thank you very much for bringing it on the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW today.

GUEST:
Well, thank you.

APPRAISER:
I've only ever had a “Pearl of Great Price” in wrappers once before in my entire career of 35 years.

GUEST:
Oh. I'll guard it more carefully.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City, UT
Appraised value (2006)
$45,000 Auction$55,000 Auction
Event
Salt Lake City, UT (June 24, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Form
Book
Material
Paper

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