Latter-day Saint Life

4,000 rare Church history items will soon go up for sale. See 11 photos of the most exciting pieces

As a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ralph Bailey spent his life collecting rare books, letters, documents, and art connected to the history of the Church. Bailey passed away in 2007, and now, according to the Deseret News, his entire private collection is for sale and features a staggering 4,000 items valued at roughly $3.2 million.

Some of the collection’s most valuable items include three first edition copies of the Book of Mormon—including one removed from Hawn’s Mill, letters handwritten by President Brigham Young, rare books, and early Latter-day Saint pamphlets.

Jerry Erkelens, a personal property appraiser who knew Bailey, told the Deseret News, “This is one of the most valuable and expansive LDS collections in private hands today. In my 40 years of appraising LDS works, I have never come across anything quite like it. With more than 4,000 items, this collection provides a unique lens into a transformational time for the religion, which helps piece together significant moments within US history.”

Here are 11 photos of some of the most noteworthy items from the collection.

First Edition Book of Mormon - Hauns Mill.JPEG
1  of  11
First edition of The Book of Mormon, dated 1830 with a note saying it was taken out of the well at Hawn’s Mill
2  of  11
Kirtland Safety Society Bank note, signed by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon
3  of  11
First edition copy of the Pearl of Great Price, dated 1851
4  of  11
Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, written by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, from 1853
5  of  11
Utah Central Railroad Company ticket signed by Brigham Young
6  of  11
Handwritten note signed by Brigham Young
7  of  11
Handwritten letter to Horace Eldridge, signed by President Brigham Young
8  of  11
Handwritten letter from President John Taylor to his niece Mary Taylor Schwartz
9  of  11
Marriage certificate signed by President Joseph F. Smith, dated 1917
10  of  11
Legal document signed by Joseph Smith, Newel K. Whitney, and William Clayton, dated 1842
Bishop's Storehouse notes, dated October 1898
11  of  11
Bishop’s storehouse note, dated October 1898
1  of  11
First edition of The Book of Mormon, dated 1830 with a note saying it was taken out of the well at Hawn’s Mill
1 of 11

    ► You may also like: Couple collects, donates first edition copies of the Book of Mormon in all 149 translations to BYU Library

    Stay in the loop!
    Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content