I enjoy tracking down early Mormon books. I have traveled over a million miles looking for these treasures. Over the past two decades I have tracked down several first edition copies of the Pearl of Great Price. In the accompanying photo, my daughter Emma is holding one of these copies. She often accompanies me on my travels.
As I have studied and looked through these copies–and other early editions–I have learned several interesting facts about the origin and history of this small tome of scripture.
Here are ten little-known facts that I have learned about the Pearl of Great Price:
1) Although most of the items selected for publication in the Pearl of Great Price had previously appeared in Church periodicals such as The Evening and Morning Star and Times and Seasons, the first collection of these materials to carry the title Pearl of Great Pricewas made in 1851 by Elder Franklin D. Richards, then a member of the Council of the Twelve and president of the British Mission.
2) In 1851 there were 12,000 members of the Church in Utah. Across the Atlantic, in the British Mission, there were over 30,000 members of the Church in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland! As could be expected, the demand for literature was very high.
3) The first edition Pearl of Great Price was printed in Liverpool, England in the summer of 1851. It had the appearance of a large pamphlet (56 pages) and was bound in a salmon-colored paper wrapper. The original cost for the book was one shilling–or about 30 cents in America. Although about 7,000 copies were printed, as few as 500 have survived. And of those 500, only about a dozen still maintain their original salmon-colored paper wrappers.