New York: Published for the Deseret University by Russell Bros. 1869. First edition. Hardcover. xi, 443p. Octavo [23 cm] in finely pebbled black cloth with title and image of the Salt Lake Temple gilt-stamped on spine, boards ruled in blind. Shallow chipping to spine tips, corners moderately bumped and exposed, else very light wear; hinges mobile, but sound; familial ownership history inscribed in ink for front free endpaper, else interior is unmarked, with crisp, bright leaves. Item #52146
As related in the inscriptions on the front endpaper, this copy was given to Glenn Groesbeck Smith by Will Lund of the Church Historian's Office. This notation was written by Groesbeck Smith's wife Christene Johnson Smith, who has also added her own name and address. The following entry, dated 1979, is by their son, Lyman E. Smith, who then notes that the book was given to his son in 1994. Glenn Groesbeck Smith was the brother of George Albert Smith, the Eighth President of the Church. He was also the great-grandson of John Smith, Joseph Smith's uncle.
Print runs for the Deseret Alphabet Book of Mormon are usually cited at five hundred, making this one of the rarest Books of Mormon.
The Deseret Alphabet was introduced in 1854 and was created by Parley P. Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, and George D. Watt at the behest of Brigham Young. Apparently partially based on Pitman shorthand, its thirty-eight characters correlate with basic sounds in the English language. The Alphabet was not a new language, but an attempt to standardize English pronunciation. The Deseret News announced in1854 that "the Board [of Regents] have held frequent sittings this winter, with the sanguine hope of simplifying the English Language, and especially its orthography. After many fruitless attempts to render the common alphabet of the day subservient to their purpose, they found it expedient to invent an entirely new and original set of characters."
Brigham Young had high hopes for the Alphabet, firmly believing that it would unite the many foreign converts that were streaming into Utah.. Its creation was one of Young's more unusual ideas, and was never fully embraced by the Mormons. It was abandoned shortly after his death. Flake/Draper 607. Auerbach I: 1183. Sabin 83050.