“Martin Harris Wallet Donated to Church,” Ensign, June 2007, 79
An original wallet used by Martin Harris (1783–1875) was donated to the Church by Mr. Harris’s great-great-grandson, Russell Martin Harris, at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accepted the wallet on behalf of the Church and spoke briefly about Martin Harris and of the wallet’s historical significance.
“One of Martin Harris’s greatest contributions to the Church, for which he should be honored for all time, was his financing the publication of the Book of Mormon,” said Elder Oaks. “He mortgaged his home and farm for $3,000 to secure payment on the printer’s contract.”
Martin Harris was a key figure in early Church history. He served as one of Joseph Smith’s early scribes and was one of the Three Witnesses to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. In 1829 he used his farm as collateral to finance the printing of the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon and sold 151 acres of his farm in 1831 for $3,000 to pay for its publication. Oral tradition in the Harris family holds that the wallet was used by Martin Harris to carry the $3,000 to the printer, Egbert B. Grandin, for payment.
According to Richard Oman, curator at the Museum of Church History and Art, “This wallet makes visually tangible the testimony of Martin Harris.”