Saturday, April 22, 2017

1830 Leather Bound Book of Mormon Replica / First Edition Book of Mormon Replica / 1830 Book of Mormon Replica

            1830 Leather Bound 
         Book of Mormon replica

The most accurate, mass-produced version in our opinion is the July 2017 release from Grandin Artisans, available exclusively from Stratford Books Distributing. Retail price: only $29.95.
(inquiries at Details below.

Also see the most comprehensive biography of Joseph Smith with the latest research - Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints:

1830 Book of Mormon Replica: 
As a surprisingly authentic replica for one that is published (mass-produced), it is the only one with all 50 of these features for historical accuracy:        

    -- Leather covers

-- Sewn binding. This is the highest quality bookbinding in the world. It makes books “archival safe,” and is the hallmark of library quality books. The 1830 first edition had it. A replica should too. Most do NOT. Instead they are GLUED ONLY. Fact about sewing worth knowing: Hand sewing was replaced with "Smythe-sewn binding" with essentially the same results, using a machine developed some years after the Book of Mormon, by David M. Smythe (1833-1907), an Irish-born U.S. inventor. It utilizes both sewing and adhesive for extra strength. Getting a replica Book of Mormon bound either way - by hand or Smyth-sewing - gives it the stitching a replica deserves to have.

Notice the sewing similarities of this replica to the 1830 first edition:
• Signatures are threaded properly with correct number of holes
• Rare, single thread sewing technique is employed (not the typical, Smythe-sewn double-threading, which creates too much bulk on the spine)
• Sewing materials – down to the smallest details of black and white color of single threads, accurately configured to comprise cords, even at the correct weight and number 
• Spine rounded to the proper degree (replicas typically have spines too flat or too rounded, due to improper sewing or, more common, inaccurate binding technique not even using sewing)

--Authentic construction features:
• page dimensions
• cover dimensions
• leather thickness
• total cover thickness (including leather and “boards” underneath the leather)
* end sheet configuration at front - 3 are used
* end sheet configuration at back - 3 are used 
* no head and tail bands (replica editions often errantly include these bands)
* proper placement on page for Testimony of the Three Witnesses
* proper placement on page for Testimony of the Eight Witnesses 

--Authentic spine design:
* typeface of "Book of Mormon" on the spine (our typeface historian/artist studied several first edition originals and traced the clearest one to make it correct)
* font size of the book title
• spine label size and height
• gold bands at top and bottom of the spine label actually cross over the black label, leaving black above and below the bands
• the other gold bands are correctly positioned on the spine, including distance between bands
• gold bands have correct width (rarely seen in replicas)
• gold bands have gold content like the original – 23K
• gold bands are the correct “color” and shade of gold
* the most standard number of gold bands across spine: 7
* gold bands have correct thickness
* gold bands have correct color and shade
* gold bands are correct distance from each other, and where they are placed on the spine
* gold bands are applied straight

--Authentic artwork of the title, “Book of Mormon,” on the spine:
•           font size
•           typeface (recreated by type designer/historian to exactness)
•           flaws and imperfections of original
•           spacing between letters
•           kerning (positioning of letters within words) 
•           leading (distance vertically between lines of words, measured from the bottom of                   each line of letters)

--Accurate paper:
·         thickness (within range of various thin-to-thick volumes produced in the original 1830       edition). This new edition is within 1/300th of an inch of the entire 592 page text block of the original Book of Mormon!.  Grandin Artisans examined and measured 4 original copies of the 1830 edition, finding each had a text block thickness of 1 and 5/32 of an inch (1.16 inch). The measuring tool was a digital micrometer, accurate to within 20/100,000 of an inch. This calculates out to each page of the original being .00195945945 of an inch. 
·         color
·         texture
·         brightness
·         opacity
·         page count: 590 pages of printed matter and 2 pages blank text in the back (separate            from the 6 pages – 3 “end sheets” - of blank pages in the back)
·         acidity. The 7% pH of the paper used in this replica comes as close as possible to that used in the original 1830 edition, making the paper genuinely acid-free, which lasts for generations - unlike books that came out shortly after 1830, which were infused with wood pulp, making it brittle in later years. (Note that in 1830, fortuitously the year the Book of Mormon was first printed, paper had the lowest acidity – of 5.6 pH - within a 150 year period, from 1800 to 1950. After 1830, and especially after 1840, paper acidity increased dramatically. The year 1830 also introduced “Rosin-sizing,” making paper better for not turning brittle, compared to before and later, but the extra acidity added to the paper for this process cut down the life span of the paper. Further note that a relatively few copies of the 1830 edition were apparently made with wood pulp paper, as there was a mistaken paper shipment. Most were made with cotton rag paper, which lasts the longest for reasons described below. But those "wood-pulp produced" paper copies have mostly disintegrated by this century. The “Triple-e edition” copies were among those with cotton rag paper that will likely last for centuries, since it was the first of the print run and had better paper. This Grandin Artisans reproduction accurately replicates that.)

·     paper quality. Of the 4, affordable First Edition Book of Mormon replicas ($25-35) that are on the market currently, 2 of them use higher quality paper and 2 of them use much lower quality paper. (The 2 with higher quality paper are this one from Grandin Artisans / Stratford Books Distributing, and the one from Herald House, a division of the Community of Christ Church in Independence, Mo. (That one however has a number of other inaccuracies, including the spine artwork, gold band spacing, label design on the spine, type font and layout, paper thickness, positioning of pages, and color/texture/material used for the cover, etc.)

The Grandin Artisans edition distributed by Stratford Books uses the highest quality paper in replicas. As stated above, and an important side note, is the fact that the bulk of 592 pages is within 1/300th of an inch of the thickness of the original 1830 edition - a remarkable feat.

The paper itself is very high quality, and a primary reason is because of the lack of acids in it that causes low quality paper to deteriorate, become brittle, and discolor prematurely. The lower quality paper is called groundwood. Two of the above 4 mentioned replicas apparently use groundwood, based on tests of all 4 replicas made by an independent artisan who accelerated the aging process, similar to tests outlined by the Library of Congress, mentioned more below. 

The tests revealed that the 2 replicas with higher quality paper were those used in the Grandin Artisans' replica and the one used in the Herald House edition.

What is groundwood paper? And, by contrast, what is the higher quality paper?

Groundwood paper does not have lignan removed, whereas the higher quality paper uses the "Kraft process." Lignan is the culprit that makes paper go brittle, deteriorate quickly, and which discolors paper, even in a few months in many cases. (Lignan interferes with the formation of hydrogen bonds in the fiber needed for paper strength.)

What makes “Kraft” the higher quality way of making pulp for paper? It removes the lignan. How? From a chemical process. In German it means “strength.” (Specifically, it uses a sulfate process, replacing the sulfite process used in making pulp from the mid 1800s until the the 1940s). 

In a nutshell, both Kraft and groundwood use wood pulp for making paper.

Before Kraft and groundwood - back in the mid-1800s - cotton rags were used as the raw material for paper. The original Book of Mormon was made from cotton rags.

Cotton rag paper has the longest paper fibers and is therefore the strongest. Next on the list for fiber length and strength is Kraft processed paper (the chemical process of wood pulp). Last on the list for fiber length and strength is groundwood, which is a mechanical (non chemical) process. The reason it has the shortest fibers is because it cuts up the “cellulose chains” in wood far more than Kraft processing.

This process produces the weakest paper for another reason - it retains the “lignan” in it, which has acid compounds that break down the fibers and cause discoloration, weakness, brittleness, and fast aging.

(Technically, lignan promostes acid hydrolysis. Kraft puling removes lignan.)

Note that wood pulp paper made after the 1980s is better than before. Before, it tended to be more acidic from the above-mentioned “alum-rosin sizing,” which was added to paper to reduce absorbency and to minimize bleeding of inks. It was made worse by adding moisture, which generates sulfuric acid. However, two good things happened in the 1980's – alum-rozin sizing was no longer added, and manufacturers began adding alkaline buffers to wood pulp paper. This retards or prevents acid hydrolysis by neutralizing acids that attack the cellulose chains in paper. Then, in the 1990's, this addition of alkaline buffers became standard.

How long does Kraft paper last? If kept in opimal conditions of cooler temperatures and 30-40% humidity, it will last hundreds of years.

Recently the Library of Congress has developed accelerated aging tests. This is done by using high temperatures and elevated humidity. Why elevated humidity? Moisture plays an essential role in the acid hydrolysis of paper.

The Library of Congress learned that rate of aging (paper degradation) increases with time as acid degradation products accumulate in the paper.

Note that with cotton rag papers, such as the original Book of Mormon and other old books, they should not be kept in closed, airtight environments because the paper retains the acidic degradation products, and they accumulate more if not aired out.

What's the bottom line? Kraft process paper from wood pulp is far superior and last much longer than groundwood, which gets brittle, discolors, and agest quickly.

This Grandin Artisans / Stratford Books edition of the 1830 Book of Mormon replica uses high-quality Kraft process paper, while 2 of the other 3 affordable replicas on the market apparently do not, based on the afore-mentioned tests. Overall, the high quality of the paper used for this edition is hard to match, unless one uses 100% cotton rag paper produced by hand, which would likely cost hundreds of dollars per copy for the paper alone.

--Accurately reproduced signatures (paper sections) with:
·  16 pages each, rather than modern-style, 32 page signatures prevalent in modern books (including other replica editions). 
Note: As stated above, back in 1830 books were sewn. What they did was sew together groups of pages called "signatures." In 1830 they were usually in signatures of 16 pages. Today, when books are sewn (which is done rarely, due to the expense), they are sewn in signatures of 32 pages, which costs MUCH less then sewing together signatures of 16 pages. Our replica has 16 page signatures sewn together in order to give the books that needed authenticity to the original 1830 edition, and to make them last much longer, by making them much more durable then "glued-only" books. That's why our books will hold up on treks and other rigorous activities considerably better than the other replicas on the market (which are glued-only). (Note that there are some hand-produced sewn replicas, in very limited editions, that cost many hundreds of dollars, but this replica  available from Stratford Books is the only one that is under $30 and is affordable.)
·  correct number of signatures – 37- creating almost double the number of sections seen in most modern books (including replicas, unfortunately). Books with 16 page sigs are considerably more expensive to produce than 32 page sigs.
·  The first page of actual text, and thus all following pages in the book, are properly positioned in every signature configuration
·  correct number of blank “text pages” are used in the last signature

--Authentic content:
• original text, digitally reproduced from the 1830 edition
• original typesetting
• page arrangement
• page count
* Rare, “Triple-e edition.” An unusual typo was made in the first few copies of the 1830 First Edition. It is contained here as well. When the 5,000 copies were printed, a mistake was made on the first 150 or so, which has made those copies become known as the “Triple-e edition.” This replica is of that edition! You can find the typo on the next to the last page, at “The Testimony of Three Witnesses,” line 10. There, the word “seen” is misspelled with 3 e’s. As soon as the printers caught the mistake, they corrected it. This makes our replica, we feel, especially interesting.

Note the following 6 features missing from real, published, mass-produced replicas. A replica would have to be hand-made for many hundreds of dollars to obtain most of these features. Getting the right paper would up the cost even considerably more:

1. Black leather label glued to the spine (The new version uses black foil stamped to the spine to simulate leather - it actually works very convincingly.)

2. Thin end sheet paper. (The new version uses thick end sheets to give the binding strength, otherwise the cover could come loose much easier. The printer that was utilized for this version demanded the use of thick end sheet paper; otherwise, the covers could not be applied with enough strength to the "book block" - the book itself, before the cover is applied.)

3. Exact text paper. (The paper for the near-exact composition would have to be custom-made, and almost impossible to produce. The paper content of the first edition was 100% rag - not available in rolls today for printing. The paper used for this new edition has other paper characteristics that are practically the same - opacity, color, etc., high quality, acid free, no wood pulp contained in it, etc., per above.)

4. Closed joint binding. (The first two editions by Stratford Books had this feature but they stopped using this method because other problems were and are created from "closed joint binding:" Although a mass-produced edition can use this method of binding, a bigger sacrifice is made regarding the spine, because it eliminates the full, accurate artwork on the spine, due to certain binding limitations.)

5. The same style of calfskin. (Not only is it very expensive but can only be applied to books by hand.)

     Letter-pressed text, produced from the same printing machine model, with the same metal type used for the original 1830 edition.

      All in all, the new mass-produced edition from Grandin Artisans, available exclusively from Stratford Books, is as close as one can get to the original, without custom-making a replica costing far more than what most people can afford (plus the additional cost of custom-made paper!) These 50 features place this replica in a remarkable position - of being the most affordable by far of a highly authentic reproduction of the original 1830 first edition Book of Mormon. 
       We hope you enjoy a high quality replica, and that by holding it, it puts you back into the day of when the Book of Mormon was first made.

8 July 2015, rev: 5 August 2015, 22 April 2017,  27, 29 July 2017


  1. I just purchased one of these books and am very happy with it. I like the fact that it is a smythe sewn binding and the type of paper that was used. Stratford books printing information is not printed anywhere inside, but rather on a loose slip of paper inserted into the middle of its pages which means the contents looks exactly like the very first origional copies. Great value here for a reproduction of a historically accurate document.

  2. I love my copy. I am hoping that someone will do an 1835 Doctrine and Covenants with the same technique! (hint-hint, wink-wink)

  3. I just bought my copy in Temple Square, Salt Lake City. I was concerned that I would have to CAREFULLY guard it, and not actually READ it. I am pleased to see that I was incorrect in that assumption. Although I DO keep the book in its original bag (that it was put in by the clerk at Point of Sale), in order to keep it clean, it is a MOST serviceable book. Reading the Book of Mormon WITHOUT double-columns and versification is MUCH easier. Although standard editions are fine for study and certainly have their place, from a purely practical standpoint of appreciating the story, this book is the only way to go. Many thanks.

    1. I agree that it's easier to read

    2. I agree, I purchased this version of the Book of Mormon almost a week ago and have LOVED reading it! I didn't realize how much easier it would be for my brain to read and comprehend. I'm so grateful to live in a time that we have access to both's great to have verses and footnotes when studying, but it's only beneficial for me to have this "clean" version without distractions.

  4. I very much enjoy reading and handling my copy of this book and greatly appreciate the extent to which the publishers went to produce such a detailed and authentic replica. I do, however,have one question: Why was the decision made to not have the aqua blue speckled edges?

  5. AUSSIE, that IS a curious question! Did the original HAVE blue speckled edges. Although many, perhaps most, books did at the time, I do not think they ALL did. Is it possible that the original Book of Mormon did NOT have such?