The Smith Improved Printing Press displayed in the Iron Acorn Press room replicates the printing press invented by Peter Smith (1795-1823) that Egbert Bratt Grandin used to print the 1st Edition of The Book of Mormon.

Peter Smith earned a degree from Yale University and owned a carpentry shop -- Smith, Hoe and Co.-- that specialized in wood products for printers.  Smith, Hoe, and Co. made the Smith Improved Press available to the market in 1822.  After Smith's death, Robert Hoe took over the company and renamed it R. Hoe & Co. and it remained the most successful press manufacturing company through a good portion of the 20th century.

Scholars are unsure of exactly when E. B. Grandin purchased his Smith Improved Printing Press. Printing of The Book of Mormon, however, commenced in 1829 and used the latest technology available to small printing shops. The Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, houses and displays the Smith Improved Press used by Grandin.  Despite being broken in places, this press is still usable today.

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began restoration work on the Grandin Building in Palmyra, New York, the Church contracted with Stephen Pratt of Cove Fort, Utah, to make a copy of the original Smith Improved Press. Pratt made molds and patterns from the press Grandin used and manufactured a replica that is displayed in the Grandin Building. Some years later, Louis Crandall contracted with Steve Pratt for a second copy that Crandall diplayed at the Crandall Historical Printing Museum in Provo, Utah.

The McKay Library displays the third and final copy manufactured by Stephen Pratt. Pratt chose to sand-cast the major parts of the press at a foundry in Nephi, Utah.  Pratt chose to cast the other steel cast parts in a lost-wax ceramic-mold process at a foundry in American Fork, Utah. Both of these foundries completed their work in the summer of 2007. From then until October 2008, Steve Pratt finished the castings, made other castings, cut steel parts, and machined surfaces. The resulting press exhibits the shape, markings, and other anomalies of the press used by Grandin (aside from the bright BYU-I blue color). Minus a few minor 'improvements' for strength, the press on display holds all the original charm of the press E.B. Grandin used in the 1820s.  Photographs of the manufacturing process and installation of the McKay Library’s copy of the Smith Improved Press are available by following this link.

Stephen Pratt (1940 - 2012) graduated from Brigham Young University with a Masters in Industrial Education/Electronics.  He manufactured wagons, handcarts, presses (including a Gutenberg press and English Wood Common press) and generally anything else that the Church needed in their restoration efforts.

The Smith Improved Press is on display in room 249 of the McKay Library. The press is open to visitors. To schedule a visit and tour, please contact Brother Sam Nielson at


Comparato, Frank E. Chronicles of Genius and Folly: R. Hoe & Company and the Printing Press As a Service to Democracy. Culver City, Calif: Labyrinthos, 1979.

Pratt, Stephen. "Who is Stephen Pratt." Liberty and Learning. Last modified 2009. Accessed February 12, 2015.