Special thanks to Trevor Holyoak for the following summary of the conference.
The A. Dean Larsen annual Book Collecting Conference at the BYU Library was held March 18-19 this year. Once again, the cost was kept down to $35 due to an endowment from Jean M. Larsen, for which I am very grateful.
I did not attend the full day workshops on the 18th. They were on the “Discovery of Photography” and “Exposed Spine Link Stitch Sewn Binding.” On the 19th, there were 7 different seminars available, of which we were able to attend 4.
We also had a nice catered lunch while we socialized, and then listened to a keynote address about Florence Nightingale, to coincide with an exhibit that is currently on display at the library. It turns out there was much I did not know about her, such as the fact that she was an extremely prolific writer. We each received a keepsake in the form of a print of a wood engraving of Florence Nightingale, which had been digitized and then reproduced with a photopolymer plate.
The first seminar I attended was on the “Early Imprints of George Q. Cannon and Sons,” given by Peter Crawley. He is the author of “A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church” and is a well-known collector of Mormon Americana. I have received permission from him to share his handout, which very thoroughly covers everything we went over – plus some – in its 56 pages.
The book that I enjoyed the most was “Songs and Flowers of the Wasatch,” edited by Emmeline B. Wells. It is one of three known copies. It was prepared for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and contains a selection of hymns (words only) along with accompanying water color paintings on each page that were hand done after the book was printed. The first page had the words to “O My Father” under the title “Invocation.” I literally looked at every page of the book. It was simply gorgeous, and I really think someone should do a nice reproduction of it.
Robert Maxwell was the presenter for “Collecting Fine Art by Collecting Fine Books: Artwork in Fine Printing.” He is the cataloger of fine press materials for Special Collections at the BYU library. You can learn more about their collection at http://guides.lib.byu.edu/book_history (click on “Art in Books”).
We got to see examples of several different printing processes, including relief (woodcut, wood engraving, etc.), intaglio (engraving and etching), planographic (lithography), digital prints, hand processes, and mixed processes, which are all described in the handout. We were shown some videos of how some of these are done, and also had the opportunity to look at books that made use of them.
One interesting example that we were all familiar with was a woodcut facsimile from the Book of Abraham papyrus in an 1878 edition of the Pearl of Great Price. However, the book I was most impressed with had a woodcut anamorphic projection of a tree, which used a cylindrical mirror to properly view it. All of the books displayed – and many more – can be seen in Special Collections by anyone interested.
The third seminar I attended was called “Collecting from the Other Saints: The Literature of Schismatic Mormonism.” It was by Mike Hunter, who is the Mormon Studies Librarian and Chair of the Religion and Family History Department at the library. He is also the author of “Mormon Myth-ellaneous.”
He showed us books, pamphlets, and periodicals from each of 3 periods: the “Pre-Martyrdom Period” (1830-44), the “Fragmentation Period” (1844-60), and the “Post-Fragmentation Period” (1860-present). We concentrated on groups other than the Community of Christ (RLDS), since they are already pretty well known.
Examples included items such as “Spiritual Wifery at Nauvoo Exposed” (St. Louis 1845), “The Nauvoo Expositor” (Nauvoo 1844), “A Defence of the Claims of James J. Strang” (1846), Sidney Rigdon’s “Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate” (Pittsburgh 1844), William E. McLellin’s “Ensign of Liberty” (Kirtland 1847), John Whitmer’s “The Book of Mormon or The Nephite Record” (1899), David Whitmer’s “An Address to All Believers in Christ,” and Joseph W. Musser’s “The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage: An Interpretation of Celestial Marriage, Plural Marriage, and Polygamy.”
While we were discussing David Whitmer, one of the other attendees passed out copies of a little known letter from the Community of Christ archives in which Whitmer reaffirmed his testimony of the Book of Mormon.
The following books were recommended for learning more about the schismatic groups:
- Hales, Brian C. “Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations After the Manifesto.” Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2006.
- Johnson, Melvin C. “Polygamy and the Pedernales: Lyman Wight’s Mormon Villages in Antebellum Texas, 1845 to 1858.” Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2006.
- Launius, Roger D. and Linda Thatcher, editors, “Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History.” Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
- Morgan, Dale L. “A Bibliography of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite),” Western Humanities Review 5 (Winter 1950-51): 42-114.
- Sillito, John R. and Susan Staker, editors, “Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters.” Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002.
- Shields, Steven L. “Divergent Paths of the Restoration: A History of the Latter Day Saint Movement.” Independence, Mo.: Herald House, 2001.
- Shields, Steven L. “The Latter Day Saint Churches: An Annotated Bibliography.” New York: Garland Pub, 1097.
My final seminar was called “Lampblack, Lead, and Letterpress: Latter-day Saint Printing in Liverpool 1840 – 1900,” by Larry Draper. He is Curator of printed Americana and Mormonism at the library and co-compiler (with Chad Flake) of A Mormon Bibliography, 1830-1930. A very good summary of the seminar appeared in Mormon Times, so I’ll just add Draper’s list of “Selected Bibliographic Sources.”
- Crawley, Peter. “A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. Volume One 1830-1847.” Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997.
- “A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. Volume Two 1848-1852.” Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005.
- Crawley, Peter and David J. Wittaker. “Mormon Imprints in Great Britain and the Empire. An Exhibition in the Harold B. Lee Library in Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles.” Provo, Utah, 1987.
- Flake, Chad J. and Larry W. Draper. “A Mormon Bibliography, 1830-1930. Books, Pamphlets, Periodicals and Broadsides Relating to the First Century of Mormonism. Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged.” Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 2004.
- Whittaker, David J. “Early Mormon Pamphleteering.” PhD. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982.
Mormon Times also reported on one of the seminars I was unable to attend, “Oh, For The Love Of Letters! Collecting Mormon Correspondence,” at http://www.mormontimes.com/studies_doctrine/church_history/?id=13954.
This conference is an annual event that I highly recommend to anyone interested in book collecting or Mormon books. I look forward to it each year almost as much as Christmas. It is definitely worth the time and the money to be able to learn about these books, handle them, and meet fellow book collectors.