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Book of Commandments sells for $391,000

Is 'a great rarity'

NEW YORK CITY — An original "Book of Commandments," a precursor to The Doctrine and Covenants, sold for $391,000 at auction Oct. 29.

An original 'Book of Commandments,' the precursor to the Doctrine and Covenants, was auctioned Oct. 29. Only two dozen copies of the book are known to exist.
An original 'Book of Commandments,' the precursor to the Doctrine and Covenants, was auctioned Oct. 29. Only two dozen copies of the book are known to exist. Photo: AP Photo

The book, which was expected to bring $400,000, met its reserve price and met price expectations, said Chris Coover, a senior specialist at the auction house Christie's.

"The price is a record for a 19th-century book," Mr. Coover said. "It beats Poe, Melville, Longfellow. There were a lot of interested parties at the auction, but I wouldn't say there was a lot of bidding. But that's typical."

Christie's policy does not allow the name of the buyer to be released. Mr. Coover would only say the book was purchased by a "private, American individual." And he doesn't expect another copy to surface at auction soon.

"This book is a great rarity," Mr. Coover said. "The last Book of Commandments offered at auction was in 1967."