SMITH, JOSEPH, JR. 1805-1844.
EARLY CONVERT SERENUS BURNET'S COPY.
The Book of Mormon: an Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palymra: E.B. Grandin, for the Author, 1830. iv, 5-588,  pp. With the penultimate leaf of testimonies and final blank. 8vo (183 x 105 mm). Period sheep, gilt- lettered black morocco spine label. Browned and foxed as usual, a few pencil linings, unpressed causing creasing to early gatherings, one corner torn away touching three or four letters, binding worn, lower cover detached.
First edition, first issue of the first publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. According to Joseph Smith, he was visited by an angel in 1823 who told him about the plates of Nephi, buried about six miles north of Palmyra in upstate New York. Smith translated them, and commissioned the newspaper publisher Grandin to print the work. The Church of Christ was formally founded soon after. Persecuted and driven out of New York State, in 1831 Smith and his followers moved the Church to Kirtland, Ohio.
It was around that time that Serenus Burnet (or "Burnett," 1787/8-1858) came into contact with Mormonism. One of the first settlers of Orange Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, he was twenty miles from the new headquarters of Joseph Smith's Church. Burnet soon converted, and his only son was issued with a mission call by Smith: "thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Stephen BurnettGo ye, go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835). On October 25, 1831, Burnet's tavern was the site of a major conference attended by Smith and numerous key members of the Church, where discussion focused on how Elders were to preach the Gospel and also provide for their families. In addition, Hyrum Smith asked his brother Joseph to elaborate on the "coming forth of the Book of Mormon," and the Prophet declined to go into details (Far West Record, the minutes of the early Church, pp 10-13). Stephen Burnet went on to manage the Church's finances, but soon questioned the reliability of those claiming to have seen the tablets, and left the Church under a cloud.
This edition is distinguished from later ones by listing Smith as the author of the book, rather than the translator, and by including his preface. The present copy is complete, with the leaf of testimonies from witnesses who saw the original golden tablets of Nephi, and without the index leaf which is found only in later issues.
Grolier American 37; Howes S-623; Sabin 83038; Streeter Sale IV:2262.
Provenance: Serenus Burnet (two ownership inscriptions, on front free endpaper and on initial blank).