Editor's note: This story was originally published in December 2015. It is being shared again to celebrate the 190th anniversary of the publication of the Book of Mormon.
Pause for a moment and picture a copy of the Book of Mormon. What does it look like? Is it slender and blue with gold embossing on the front? Or maybe part of a thicker volume that contains other books of scripture?
But not every copy of the Book of Mormon looks like the "missionary" volume we all picture. Over the years, there has been a surprising variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and more as printers have strived to make the book itself as beautiful as the message inside. These tomes often turn into valued (and sometimes even rare) heirlooms as they're passed down.
Check out a few of these beautiful, historical copies of the Book of Mormon:
While this 1893 German edition of the Book of Mormon, printed by Deseret News, is well-worn, and you can still see the beautiful pebble designs inked onto the edges of the pages.
This Hawaiian edition of the Book of Mormon was printed by Deseret News in 1905, bound in blind-stamped black cloth with a gilt-stamped title on cover and spine. A green and white floral motif design decorates the end sheets of this tropical edition.
This 1906 edition of the Book of Mormon is the pulpit form, made from the 1888 edition. Copies of the Book of Mormon made around this time featured a table of contents that included brief summaries of the stories and important scriptures. For example, this copy tells the story of 2 Nephi with the lines "Lehi to his sons," "Opposition in all things," "Adam fell that men might be," "Joseph saw our day," and so on.
1907: Swedish Edition
This 1907 Swedish edition of the Book of Mormon featured a beautiful gilded cover with "Angeln Moroni."
1907: French Edition
The leather cover of the 1907 French edition of the Book of Mormon, though heavily worn from use, protects the delicate pages within to preserve its important message.
This 1920 copy of the Book of Mormon, printed by W.B. Conkey Co., Hammond, Ind. and Zion's Printing & Publishing Co., Independence, Mo., has the following handwritten note inside the cover:
"Published on the centenary of the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon for the Alice Louise Reynolds Library. No collection of American Literature is complete without this book."
An angel Moroni motif marks many older and foreign copies of the Book of Mormon, including this 1935 Swedish edition, which is unique in its cover color, material, and design.
1964: Blue Background
This 1964 edition of the Book of Mormon features a blue, accordion-style background.
1964: World's Fair Edition
This 1964 Book of Mormon features a special cover printed for the World's Fair in New York, where the Church shared the gospel at its Mormon Pavillion.
1964: Swedish Edition
Angel Moroni appears again on this 1964 Swedish edition of the Book of Mormon, this one reminiscent of the statue designed for the Los Angeles California temple.
The first edition of the Book of Mormon in Afrikaans was printed in 1972 and featured a beautiful golden angel Moroni.
This 1977 "gold plates" edition of the Book of Mormon features reformed Egyptian characters on the cover.
Produced in 1982, this commercial copy of the Book of Mormon included historical and context data relevant to the timelines and stories.
Photos of the copies of the Book of Mormon at the BYU Libary by Kelsey Berteaux
An Edition Just for You
Want to customize your own copy of the Book of Mormon? Don't miss these and other journal editions of the Book of Mormon, available now at deseretbook.com.