Santa Fe, NM (PressExposure) April 11, 2008 -- Like a lot of things in life--Mormon history started out simply.
The story goes that in a grove of trees behind his father's log house in Palmyra, N.Y., in 1820 14-year-old Joseph Smith, Jr., knelt praying.
He prayed for guidance. He described his experience years later.
"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me."
In the vision Smith said God told him to reject all the religions he had heard about. In time Smith would discover, what was for him the true Christian faith, The Church of Christ--later renamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints.
Over the years Smith said he had more visions. During one an angel allegedly appeared to him and spoke about hidden gold plates with ancient writing.
The writing contained the history of the original people on the North American continent during the time of Christ. The angel also told Smith where the plates were buried.
Smith went to the west slope of a hill called Cumorah. Using a stick as a lever, he moved a stone and uncovered the box.
There he reportedly found plates made of pure gold and bound with three huge wire rings. According to Smith, they were about the size of book pages and no thicker than sheet metal.
He spent years translating the plates and his translations were published in the Book of Mormon in 1830.
Mormon faith is rooted in the Book of Mormon and about 88 million copies have been published since 1830. It's the early copies that command attention on the auction block now.
On Oct. 11, PBA Galleries, San Francisco, featured a first edition Book of Mormon. The plain 588-page text sold for $103,500. Printed in 1830, only about 500 are estimated to survive today.