Being a stickler for historical accuracy, I have taken a particular fascination with the 1830 first edition Book of Mormon. My findings? The original 1830 edition was downright beautiful.
Unfortunately, replicas are usually not very accurate. One new version, however, is. These are the crucial features to look for in a replica:
1. Leather cover. Typically mass-produced replicas use brown paper to look like leather, stretched over hard covers. Another uses brown plastic to simulate leather.
2. Sewn binding. This is the highest quality bookbinding in the world. It makes books archival safe. The 1830 first edition had it. A replica should too. Most do not. Instead, the binding is only glued. Getting a replica Book of Mormon bound either by hand-sewing or Smyth-sewing (a slightly newer version of hand stitching, by machine, adding the additional strength of adhesive) gives this book the stitching that a good replica deserves.
3. 16 page sections – called “signatures.” Unfortunately, most replicas use modern, 32 page signatures (large, printed sheets of paper that are folded and cut into pages). Any replica worth its salt should use 16 page signatures.
4. Authentic spine details. The spine of replicas should be authentic to the original: the stamped wording of “Book of Mormon” on the spine’s black label should be the right size and font – it rarely is. The gold bands should go all the way across the spine and should in fact run inside the black label on the spine. That’s also rare to see in replicas.
Want a bonus feature to look for? The last two pages in the text should be positioned correctly. These are the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses. Replicas often have those last two pages misaligned to a weird position on the lower half of the page, compared to the original 1830 edition, where it’s higher up.
The new replica actually does have leather covers, sewn binding, 16 page signatures, and a correct spine. It also has the last two pages of the book correctly positioned.
-->Order yours now at DeseretBook.com
I watched it come together over a 9 year process, evolving from two previous editions by Stratford Books that were the most accurate replicas on the market at the time. But this one from Stratford tops them all.
Having a passion for the beautiful 1830 first edition, I personally researched what needed to be added to this 3rd replica edition. For it, I interviewed book restorers and printing historians. After locating several Book of Mormon first editions, I brought along my micrometer (for measuring details within 5/100,000 of an inch) and a staff to analyze the original edition copies.
In summary, the 1830 edition has been “kind-of-cloned” and mass-produced for 35 years now - since 1980. Terrifically satisfying is the fact that an affordable replica finally comes very close to the original 1830 edition.
Among the various replicas for sale, you have a decent choice. You can get the cheapest of all replicas for as low as $22.95, or pay $38.95 for the newest replica, with its 50 accurate features. (Or pay between $80,000 and $150,000 for an actual first edition, of which about 500 likely still remain of the original 5,000 printed.)
For a look at all 50 features (and 5 additional features that no mass-produced replica could pull off properly) check out my blog, 1830replica.blogspot.com.