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For week ended November 21, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001

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First Edition Book of Mormon sells for $58,000 (Old LDS items sold at blazing prices)

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 Currency Auctions.

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."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information