Authorization for Ebenezer Robinson, 24 February 1842
JS, Authorization, , Hancock Co., IL, for , 24 Feb. 1842; handwriting of JS; witnessed by ; one page; JS, Papers, 1839–1844, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, Springfield, IL. Includes docket.
Single leaf, now measuring 4½ × 8½ inches (11 × 22 cm); the original height is unknown, as the bottom edge of the leaf was torn off. The document was inscribed on one side of the paper. The leaf was folded once horizontally and once vertically. Japanese tissue was used to conserve the left edge of the leaf.
The document’s verso was docketed by : “Copy Right for 1500 copies of Book of Mormon.” The authorization’s nineteenth-century custodial history is unknown. The document was part of the library of the Right Reverend Nathanial S. Thomas of . That library was sold by the Anderson Galleries of in 1929. In 1957 Parke-Bernet Galleries sold the authorization and other letters and documents that belonged to the deceased Forest G. Sweet. According to staff at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Parke-Bernet Galleries sold the authorization to the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop of , which in turn sold it to the Illinois State Historical Library (now Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum) in 1957. After 1972 the library placed the authorization and other JS documents acquired over approximately thirty years into an artificial collection with different fonds called the Joseph Smith Papers.
Lazare, American Book-Prices Current, 1957, xxi, 434.
Lazare, Edward, ed. American Book-Prices Current, 1957: A Record of Literary Properties Sold at Auction in the United States from July 1956 through June 1957. New York: American Book-Prices Current, 1957.
Correspondence between Joseph Smith Papers editors and manuscripts curator at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL, 15 May 2017, copy in editors’ possession.
On 24 February 1842 JS wrote and signed a note authorizing to print fifteen hundred copies of the Book of Mormon. Robinson originally owned the Times and Seasons newspaper and a printing office in , Illinois, in partnership with JS’s brother . In spring 1840 the two men contracted with JS for rights to stereotype a new edition of the Book of Mormon and to print four thousand copies. The stereotyping was completed by October 1840, and Robinson had two thousand copies printed in , Ohio. Robinson apparently printed a few hundred additional copies of the Book of Mormon in Nauvoo in early 1841. Following Don Carlos’s death in August 1841, Robinson became sole proprietor of the printing establishment. However, a 28 January 1842 revelation instructed the to take over the editing of the Times and Seasons, and on 4 February, Robinson sold the printing office, including all printing and stereotyping materials, to JS. Since Robinson had not printed four thousand copies, as the original agreement allowed, the print run authorized on 24 February likely represented the completion of the 1840 contract.
JS apparently wrote or at least signed the authorization in the presence of , who witnessed the document. It was presumably then transmitted to . Apparently Robinson printed additional copies of the Book of Mormon as authorized here, since he advertised the sale of the books in the 15 January 1842 issue and both February 1842 issues of the Times and Seasons.