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Egbert Bratt Grandin was born in 1806 in Freehold, New Jersey, and was raised near Palmyra, New York. Grandin started in the printing industry when he was only eighteen years of age, at the Wayne Sentinel, a weekly newspaper in Palmyra. He rented the building where he would publish the Book of Mormon from his brother, Philip Grandin, in the fall of 1828. Also in 1828, Grandin married Harriet Rogers (they had no children).
In June of 1829, Joseph Smith took a few manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon to Grandin to obtain an estimate for printing costs. Grandin and his associates were dubious at first about printing this story from a "golden Bible". Joseph Smith then took the manuscript pages to Thurlow Weed, a fellow printer, but Weed flatly turned him down, saying he did not believe Joseph Smith's translation account.
The manuscript was finally returned to Grandin, who agreed to publish the account. Grandin seemed to be comforted by the fact that the business arrangement would not necessarily associate him with the religion, and that the monetary gain from the endeavor would be large. On August 17, 1829, the agreement was made to publish five thousand copies for three thousand dollars. The three-thousand dollar deposit was exorbitant, and Martin Harris mortgaged part of his farm to pay the fee. Oliver Cowdery made a second transcript of the manuscript, so that the original would not be endangered, but it appears that for the section between Helaman 13 through Mormon, the original transcript was used. Each day, the transcribed copy was carried from the Smith's log cabin to the printer and then carried back to the cabin in the evening.
News of the proposed publication brought negative publicity and controversy, causing Grandin to fear completing the project. Joseph Smith quieted his fears, and the first copies went on sale on March 26, 1830. The entire first edition went on sale a few months later.
E.B. Grandin was 23 years old when the Book of Mormon was printed. Grandin died at Palmyra in 1845. In 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the Grandin Building from Paul Cherry. The print shop has been restored by the Church, and was dedicated on March 26, 1998, by then President Gordon B. Hinckley as the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site. At the dedication, President Hinckley referred to the printing of the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon and exclaimed that 88 million copies of the book had been printed by the time of the dedication of the building as an historical site:
- That speaks for itself. It wasn't a fly-by-night thing. It was the beginning of a great and marvelous venture in bringing forth to the world an added witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A visitors' center has been built onto the back of the original building, and as much as possible of the original structure has been uncovered.
- Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, Jr., Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man, BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993, 52-53.
- Donald L. Enders, "Two Significant Sites of the Restoration," Ensign, September 1998, 30.
- Greg Hill, "Church Restores E.B. Grandin Building," Church News, April 4, 1998.