Summarized by Kent Larsen
First Edition Book of Mormon sells for $58,000 (Old LDS items sold at blazing prices)
Deseret News 21Nov99 N1
By Jennifer Toomer-Cook: Deseret News staff writer
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- A first edition of the Book of Mormon sold for
$58,000 at an auction Saturday held in conjunction with the Western
National Historical Artifacts &Paper Money Show in Salt Lake City. The
book was purchased by collector of Mormon memorabilia John Hajicek of
Independence, Missouri. The auction was run by Kansas-based Lyn Knight
A first-edition Book of Mormon went for as little as $5,000 a few years
ago, but demand for the book has increased over the years, in step with
the increasing number of LDS Church members worldwide.
This particular Book of Mormon was from the collection of Steve A.
Kovacich, a Mormon history buff who died last year at age 69. Kovacich
had collected many Mormon history documents and treasures and displayed
them at his Albany, California shop. Following his death, calls from
collectors led his daughter-in-law, Elaine Kovacich, who is the trustee
of his estate, to work with Knight and prepare to auction Kovacich's
collection. "All my hard work is culminated, all my blood, sweat and
tears," said Elaine Kovacich after Hajicek purchased for $13,000 more
than she had expected. "I'm so excited. I can't believe it."
Hajicek also purchased a 1851 Pearl of Great Price for $29,000. As a
collector Hajicek has acquired more than 20,000 Mormon books and
documents "for my personal enjoyment." Hajicek is also known as a dealer
in Mormon collectibles. The Deseret News erroneously stated that Hajicek
is a member of the LDS Church. He is actually a member of the Church set
up by James J. Strang following the death of Joseph Smith.
Other items sold at the auction include an 1849 Mormon $20 coin, one of
about 30 in existence, which sold for $55,000 and the original minutes
of a spring 1848 LDS conference, which sold for $33,000. Also sold were
a receipt for vegetable soup signed by Joseph Smith ($5,000), A volume
of the LDS Church newspaper "Times and Seasons," an 1840 Book of Mormon
printed in Nauvoo ($14,000), an 1869 Deseret Alphabet Book of Mormon, a
copy of the anti-Mormon book "Mormonism Exposed" by John C. Bennett
($1,700) and several Mark Hofmann forgeries, which were marked as
forgeries and still sold for $1,500 to $4,000.
Mormon dealers said this sale was the most significant in years, "This
is probably the finest collection of Utah and Mormon memorabilia to ever
come to Salt Lake," said Gaylen D. Rust, of Rust Rare Coin, a Salt Lake
City dealer. "This is a real treat."