By: Ryan T. Roos
Amidst the headlines that have been made of late regarding the initial theft and fortunate return of a first edition Book of Mormon (Palmyra: E.B. Grandin, 1830) from Mrs. Helen Schlie of Mesa, Arizona, lie reports that a small handful of those who have have taken the opportunity to openly question Mrs. Schlie’s character; some going so far as to ascribe to her seemingly base motivations. These criticisms target specifically the practice of framing and selling of individual pages of her 1830 edition. I find these criticisms, while likely sincere, to be altogether unfortunate, and certainly not reflective of my personal experience with the woman in question. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Schlie at an LDS Bookseller’s conference in Sandy, Utah in 2007. There I encountered and learned of a woman who, after acquiring her first edition Book of Mormon in the late 1960s, took every opportunity to share her new treasure with anyone who might find the experience personally meaningful. Knowing well of the book’s monetary value, but more sensitive to its emotional worth, Mrs. Schlie altruistically allowed for anyone, from sticky-handed primary children, to perfect strangers such as myself, to hold, embrace, and experience her personal treasure in hopes of providing all of us with the memory of a lifetime. Those who endeavor now to take Mrs. Schlie to task for the selling off that same book piece-by-piece would do well to remember that her tattered book, and the pages now falling therefrom, are a testament to a generous standard that we in the trade could never live up to ourselves.