With today’s technology, one can print thousands of copies of a book in a single day. Proofreading is simple — the computer does most of the work. It’s not hard to be a published author. None of this was the case, however, in 1829 when Joseph Smith set out to publish the Book of Mormon.
It took Egbert B. Grandin and his team approximately nine months to publish the 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith requested. It was a remarkable feat at the time — one that was only possible because of Grandin’s printing press.
The $3,000 bill was so expensive that Martin Harris mortgaged part of his farm in order to fund it. That’s equivalent to almost $100,000 today.
BYU-Idaho has an exact replica of Grandin’s press. School employees give demonstrations to all kinds of groups, including classes, family home evening groups, ward youth groups and more. It sits on the second floor of the David O. McKay Library next to the Special Collections area.
“It may not be Grandin’s press, but it’s the closest darn thing,” said Sam Nielson, a BYU-I faculty member who oversees the library.
BYU-I’s press was one of three made by the late Steve Pratt, a craftsman who created many replicas of various historical objects, including many for Church history sites. Pratt finished the presses in 2008, and BYU-I started its demonstrations in 2009.
The Church estimates that there are 700 copies of the original 1830 Book of Mormon left. Many were destroyed as mobs drove the saints out of their homes throughout early Church history. Three of the surviving copies reside in the Special Collections area of the McKay Library at BYU-I.
The one shown in the pictures below includes an inscription from the original owner explaining that it was damaged by rain while crossing the plains. It also includes personal notes from the second owner, who converted to the gospel after reading that copy of the Book of Mormon.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of several reformed Latter-day Saint churches believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and an ancient record of the early inhabitants of the Americas. They believe that it goes hand-in-hand with the Bible to help people to find Jesus Christ.
To learn more about the Book of Mormon and its history, visit the Church of Jesus Christ website.