Nestled between restaurants and clothing stores, you might not have guessed that inside this building you can find everything from a first edition Winnie the Pooh to a Hyrum Smith’s personal copy of the Book of Mormon.
The shop is intended to have the feel of quaint little English village with six smaller shops inside, each specializing in something different. The specialities include antiques, children’s literature, and bibles.
The brick covering the floor and extending into the facade of this shop is over 200 years old. It comes from France and dates to the time of Napoleon.
This is currently the only chair from Charles Dickens’ country home, Gads Hill, that is in North America. On the top, you can still see the brass plate placed by Dickens’ caretaker to authenticate his household items after he died.
The Tudor-style stucco facade of the shop in the corner is modeled after Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon. If something in this shop looks like it could be antique or modeled after a real place, it probably is.
This chair belonged to Brigham Young. It was acquired through his wife, Harriet Amelia Folsom. She is sometimes referred to as his favorite wife because she was always at his side during public appearances. The upholstery is weaved out of 100% woven horsehair.
This uniquely embroidered copy of John Ruskin’s ‘The Seven Lamps of Architecture’ may not immediately ring a bell, but the words found in this volume are frequently quoted in temple dedications: “When we build let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think as we lay stone on stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred, because our hands have touched them; and men will say, as they look upon the labour and wrought substances of them: See, this our fathers did for us.”
The item in the center is one of the top posts from the gates of the newly restored Nauvoo Temple. That makes it a more contemporary treasure, but a treasure nonetheless. The gates that were originally placed on the restored building were not high enough and so were replaced with higher ones and this is one of the pieces of what was removed.
These paintings come from the woman known to some as the “Matriarch of Utah Artists”. Ella Peacock was an icon in Spring City, Utah. Though she was very poor, she would make her own frames and continue to paint.
She would even use both sides of the canvas when she didn’t have money for more supplies. “I think she would be shocked to know how much her art is worth today,” says Moon.
Among the treasures in the “Antiques and Collectables” shop is this item, on loan. It is a post taken out of the Salt Lake Tabernacle in order to make room for the first news cameras to be brought in for General Conference. It is amazing to see the craftsmanship and creativity of the pioneers in creating this pillar from so many separate pieces of wood.
You come to this shop and you can’t help but learn some new piece of history along the way. New acquisitions are being made all the time so the experience continue to change from visit to visit.
“We have the largest selection of bibles for retail sale probably in the world,” says Moon. Most bookshops you go to will have two or three bibles, if you’re lucky maybe ten or twelve. The Bible Shoppe inside Moon’s Rare Books has 280 different bibles from the 1400s to the present.
This is an original proclamation from John Adams from 1799, during his presidency. It was sent to the secretaries of each state declaring a day of fasting and prayer. A day “that the citizens of the states, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies…”
This is a communal sacrament cup given to Cyrus Wheelock, a friend of Joseph Smith. Engraved in the side is a picture of the prophet holding up his copy of the Book of Mormon.
This is not your standard sacrament tray. It is over a hundred years old and has glass cups. With the flu pandemic in the early 1900s, they discontinued communal sacrament cups, but these glass ones continued until the 1940s.
Even this door to Reid’s office has its own rich history and design. It depicts St. George slaying the dragon and is taken from the interior of a castle in England. The heavy, intricate door is four inches thick.
The back office contains many of the most impressive and valuable artifacts. Behind him on the wall is Arnold Friberg’s color study for his painting of Abinadi and King Noah. In the foreground is a Friberg piece that was never completed, “General Joseph Smith Reviewing the Nauvoo Legion.” The shop also displays the only known sketch from The Prayer at Valley Forge, which the painter had gifted to his dentist.
Below the beautiful marble bust of Joan of Arc is a fourteen-volume bible that belonged to Louis XV of France. It is in French and Latin and includes commentary and extensive illustrations; a very expensive commission. It’s bound in crimson Morocco leather for the King.
The gallery includes a few hidden props from famous feature films if you know where to look. Perhaps you’ll recognize this fateful “reaping bowl” from the Hunger Games. It was the vessel from which the names were drawn for participation in the games. “The only names in there now are my business cards so I can say I’ve had my name drawn out of the reaping bowl.”
Inside the vault are the crown jewels of the entire collection: the scriptures belonging to eleven of our Latter-day prophets. “It would be literally impossible to duplicate this kind of collection of the prophets’ scriptures, my goal is to eventually have at least one from every prophet.”
The vault also contains scriptures and books belonging to other famous historical figures. This bible, for example, belonged to Elizabeth I, the virgin queen. It dates to 1589.
There is also a copy of The Hobbit signed by its author. There is no other signed copy of The Hobbit for sale anywhere in the world.
“He only signed a few dozen and you just never see them surface,” says Moon.
This belonged to Pope Pius XVII, who excommunicated Napoleon. This cover features his papal arms and silk ribbons. So when he was leading mass, this would’ve been the book he was using.
This is Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo copy of the Book of Mormon. It is the third edition, which was printed in Nauvoo, and still has his book plate inside. He quite possibly would’ve had this in his pocket while he was giving his King Follett discourse.
The Book of Mormon editions would remain pocket-sized for the next 58 years. There would not be a large copy until they did the pulpit edition of 1888. Moon’s Rare Books also has Hyrum Smith and Samuel Smith’s personal copies of the Book of Mormon.
As a young man, Spencer W. Kimball heard a visiting authority talk about the importance of reading the bible. He had never read it and so went home that very night to begin. This is his personal copy of the Bible with an inscription from his father inside: “bot in Tucson, Arizona. To Spencer Woolley Kimball by his father, Andrew Kimball. Christmas, 1912. Read and study this book my boy and make yourself conversant with its contents, then you will be glad. Affectionately, your father.”
Along with Brigham Young’s chair, Reid acquired his last set of scriptures, from 1876. “I’ve seen several sets of his, but this is the first one I’ve seen that is highly annotated with his notes.” It is the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants printed in Utah and it had 26 new sections. It’s the first one to include sections 121 and 122.
This is an original copy of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, printed in Philadelphia in 1776. “Often,” Reid commented, “seeing things that had this kind of impact on the course of history makes people very emotional.”
“Where else will you see something like this? Most collections like this are under lock and key. The most important books here and locked up here too, but we still show them.” The friendly staff of Moon’s Rare Books are ready and willing to show you around and answer any questions you have.
“I love sharing these stories with people who want to hear them, especially youth. I love the look of amazement when they see something they’ve only heard about,” says Moon.