Brent F. Ashworth
Attorney, Historian, Public Servant, Collector

Brent F. Ashworth

Brigham Young High School
Class of 1967




B. Ashworth Rare Books & Collectibles

Brent Ashworth Opens Rare-Book Store in Provo

Collecting rare books, manuscripts and other odd things has long been a passion of Brent Ashworth's.

Now, after 45 years of dreaming and collecting, Ashworth has opened a collectibles shop called "B. Ashworth's" [formerly] at 127 W. Center, Provo.

"Most of those years I have wanted to share the things I have collected and the information I have gleaned," he said.

The sign (and the store name) belonged to his mother, Bette Ashworth. She owned "B. Ashworth's," a small button and braid shop in Costa Mesa and Provo.

For years after his mother died the sign sat behind Brent Ashworth's couch.

"Since I was the only one in my family with the same first initial, I asked to have that sign, wanting to use it as the name of my collectibles' shop someday," he said.

While most of the collectibles in the new B. Ashworth's are from Brent Ashworth's personal collection, he has a few consigned items.

Among them are first and second editions of the Book of Mormon and the first hymn book of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compiled by Eliza R. Snow. The book has no music; just words. A song by printer W.W. Phelps, "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning" was added to the end.

Only nine copies of the hymn book are known to exist and are valued at about $500,000.

The first edition of the Book of Mormon has chapters inserted by a printer's assistant, but no verses. The second edition has the verses, and about 2,000 grammatical corrections made by Joseph Smith, Ashworth said. Smith is listed as the author. The books are valued at $75,000-$100,000.

In 1833, Church officials were printing the first Book of Commandments in Independence, Mo. A mob came in, destroyed the press and threw the pages into the street. Some children picked them up and placed them in the bushes to hide them. Later they took the pages to church authorities who were able to publish about 25 of the books. Ashworth has one of them on consignment with the words "fifth book" handwritten along the wide bottom margin, purportedly by Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith's scribe.

While collectible LDS items bring some of the western American history to the shop, other items are of national or international importance.

For example, Ashworth has a framed document signed by Abraham Lincoln designating J. W. North of Minnesota as surveyor general for Nevada, a document worth as much as $9,000.

An 1813 framed letter from Napoleon Bonaparte to his son is another prize. Napoleon items were rare until the 1960s when 40,000 documents the French conqueror signed were found in an old barn outside Paris. The value of Napoleon items plummeted but have been coming up in recent years, Ashworth said.

He also has a page from the Gutenburg Bible. Only 48 known copies of the Bible are in existence, some not complete. One copy was so incomplete that in 1920 it was taken apart and sold page by page, starting at $200. Ashworth values his page at $65,000.

Other documents he has for sale were signed by Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Clara Barton and Winston Churchill.

Ashworth's inventory includes a section of movie memorabilia, with a monogrammed pink dress worn by Marilyn Monroe and a brown leather jacket actor James Dean wore in "Rebel Without a Cause."

By Rodger L. Hardy, Deseret News, Friday, June 16, 2006


Brent Ashworth discussing his collections

Ashworth's Historical Collection

If a picture tells a thousand words, local rare-book and artifact collector/shop owner from Provo Brent Ashworth can recite every last one from the volumes his collection speaks.

Ashworth enjoys playing show-and-tell with his collection. The hoard he has amassed speaks to his personality — eclectic and detailed. For every Jimi Hendrix autographed record there is a 1791 George Washington campaign button and a story to go with it.

The magnitude of the collection extends beyond its monetary value and chronicles the highs and the lows of American history, teaching with each story told.

“I’m just a collector. I love show-and-tell; I really am a kindergartner at heart. It’s not worth having if you don’t show it to people. It’s our history and they don’t teach our history in the schools anymore,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth serves as general counsel for Zija, but his true passion lies with his little shop around the corner in Provo.

“I guess you can say I work at Zija,” Ashworth said. “But I always try to find a way to sneak over to my shop. It’s what I love; I love to collect, I love to tell stories and I love to share it all.”

At Ashworth’s store, B. Ashworth's, at 55 N. University Avenue, Suite 120, at Provo Town Square, visitors are always welcome — as long as there is time for a story.

Special Thanks to Jonathan Boldt, Deseret News, Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Provo Collector Shares Civil Rights Artifacts
A historic artifacts collector from Provo shows where our country started and where we are today in efforts for equality.
The most famous speech from the Civil Rights Movement was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while addressing 250,000 people at the National Mall with his dream.

“I heard the speech live on black and white tv and I was only 14 at the time and I thought it was the greatest speech I ever heard in my lifetime,” said historic artifacts collector Brent Ashworth.

But to truly understand its significance, Historic Artifacts Collector Brent Ashworth takes us back to 1850.

“To think people had a price put on them and they were freely bought and sold in this country,” said Ashworth.

He has an original estate document that lists the worth of 20 slaves.

“Duke is listed at $1,200 and Dan as well probably because they were young workers. Moses is only valued at $200 probably because he was a young man or an old man and they didn't value him as much,” said Ashworth.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. The 13th Amendment Abolished Slavery. But equality still remained in the distance.

“These old signs from Montgomery in 1931 during the depression and this one from 1939 show restroom signs that say whites and colored. Also, drinking fountains signs from 1931 that say whites and colored. It's amazing it’s that recent,” said Ashworth.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man in 1955. Parks signed a typed statement of her bus ride cut short.

“The statement was typed out and she signed it and she wrote all over. She was proud of what she had done,” said Ashworth.

That sparked a little known preacher Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to take up the fight for Civil Rights.

“Dr. King's speech where he spoke from the heart where he talked about his dreams for his children and other children in America being together and being on an equal footing,” said Ashworth.

And one of the most coveted and impressive items, Dr. King’s last letter.

“My dear brothers and sisters, it is a great privilege to have an opportunity to greet you. It has been my good fortune to meet your pastor Reverend Joseph House. He has been a real help to the struggling workers of Memphis,” said Dr. King.

The letter was written about black sanitation workers who were being paid 80% less than their white counterparts. It’s a handwritten letter on hotel stationary -- the same hotel with the balcony where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. These items depict the scarred past of a nation. A nation’s history of fighting for ethnic, racial, gender, and religious equality.

Martin Luther King - I Have A Dream

Fast forward 40 years, to what many call the partial fulfillment of Dr. King’s Dream, the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Ashworth collects the priceless artifacts because of his love for history. The same history he hopes won’t repeat itself again. And he says Utahns must realize that Dr. King’s efforts allowed for religious freedoms just as much as they did for ethnic equality.

Source: ABC 4, Salt Lake City, Utah, published August 28, 2013.


Brent F. Ashworth with rare documents

Brent F. Ashworth Biography

Brent Ferrin Ashworth was born January 8, 1949, in Albany, California, the first son and child of Dell Sheperd and Bette Jean Brailsford Ashworth.

He grew up in Provo, Utah, where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age 13 (1962) and graduated from Brigham Young High School as studentbody president in 1966-67.

He entered Brigham Young University in 1967, graduating cum laude with a BA in History and Political Science in 1972.

He served in the US Army Reserves, and was called to active duty at Ft. Ord, California in 1969.

He met his wonderful future wife, Charlene Mills, the daughter of Gayland Ranson “Mike” and Margaret Mills of Tempe, Arizona at BYU, where Brent’s father was serving as their bishop. They were married December 16, 1970, by Elder O. Leslie Stone in the Salt Lake Temple.

Their marriage has been blessed with nine children: Amy Josephine (1973), John Dell (1975), Matthew Ferrin (1977), Samuel Mills (1978, deceased in 1985), Adam Parrish (1979), David Alden (1981), Emily Bette (1983), Luke Ranson (1986) and Benjamin Richard (1988). They have ten wonderful grandchildren.

He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Utah College of Law in 1975.

He served in Price, Utah as Assistant Carbon County Attorney, 1975-76, beginning with the Sundowner Motorcycle murder case and briefly practiced law with the Price firm of Frandsen & Keller, 1976-77. He served as Secretary of the South-Eastern Utah Bar Association in 1977.

He then worked as Vice President-General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Nature’s Sunshine Products in Spanish Fork and Provo, Utah, 1977-2003, was Vice President-General Counsel of Neways International, Springville, Utah, 2003-2005, and has been a legal consultant for Shaklee Corporation in Pleasanton, California and to several other Utah corporations and clients.

Currently, he is in private law practice in Provo, Utah.

In 2006, he founded B.Ashworth’s, Inc., a Provo business dealing in rare documents, books, art, collectibles and other curiosities, first located at 127 West Center St. and relocated in 2010 to Provo Town Square, 55 North University Avenue.

He was originally hired as General Counsel to Zija International in 2004-5, and again from 2012 to the present.

After Price, Utah (1975-77), the Ashworths resided in Payson, Utah (1977-82), where Mr. Ashworth served as a city councilman (1979-82), acting mayor (1982) and bishop of the Payson Park Ward (1978-82).

They moved back to Provo in 1982, where he was selected an “Outstanding Young Man of America” (1982), served on a BYU stake high council and as bishop of the BYU 82nd Ward (1983-87).

He has also served as President of Deseret Village for the handicapped, in Spanish Fork, Utah (1988-90), President of the Utah Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (1991-92), on the American Red Cross board (1988-94).

He also served as Vice President of the Squaw Peak Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers (1994-95), on the Provo Oak Hills Stake high council (1993-98), as President of the Emily Dickinson Society of Utah (1995-97), board member and chairman of the Provo Landmarks Commission (1997-date).

He served as board member and chairman of the Provo Library Board (2000-06), as Trustee of the Springville Museum of Art (1998-01), as President of the Provo Kiwanis Club (1992-93), Lt. Governor (2001-2) Governor (2009-10) and Immediate Past Governor (2010-11) of the Utah-Idaho District of Kiwanis International.

Ashworth was a board member of the Celebration of Health Foundation (1998-05) and currently serves as board member and is the current President of the Ft. Douglas Military Museum Association at Ft. Douglas, Utah (2010-date).

He has served as a Trustee of the Crandall Historical Printing Museum since its founding (1998-date) and currently serves as board chairman.

Mr. Ashworth was among the community leaders in converting the old BYU Lower Campus (formerly the BY High School Education Building) into the Provo City Library at Academy Square (2001). He served as General Counsel for the Brigham Young Academy Foundation (1995-02) and as Chairman of the Art Subcommittee of the Provo Library Construction Oversight Committee (1998-99).

He also served the citizens of Provo after he was appointed by Mayor Lewis Billings as Co-Chairman of the Provo Sesquicentennial Committee (1998-99).

He also assisted the youth of his community by serving on the Executive Board of the Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America (2000-09), and as Board Member of the American Heritage School, American Fork, Utah (2002-05).

Mr. Ashworth has served in three branch presidencies at the Provo Missionary Training Center (2002-05), as first counselor in the Provo Pleasant View Fifth Ward bishopric (2005-07), and has served two church service missions, as an acquisition specialist in the LDS Church Archives (2007-08) and in the Church History Library (2009-12).

Brent Ashworth is a recipient of the Patriot Medal (1992), the highest honor presented by the Utah Society, Sons of the American Revolution, the Provo Mayor’s Award of Excellence (1999), for serving as the Co-Chairman of the Provo Sequicentennial Celebration (1998-99), the George S. Hixon (2000), Reed Culp (2002) and Lifetime Service (2010) medals from Kiwanis International.

He has received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts (2006), and in 2011, was chosen as one of the first recipients (#93 nation-wide), of the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, presented by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The highlight of his scouting career has been his seven Eagle Sout sons. With his long-time friend, Louis Crandall of Provo, he co-founded the George E. Freestone Boy Scout Museum in Provo, Utah (2000-08).

Some know Brent for sharing some of his many experiences from his varied and wide collecting career, enthusiastically pursued for over half a century. He himself is most proud of his wonderful wife Charlene and their great family.

By Brent Ashworth, August 7, 2013

Brent Ashworth with family
Brent F. Ashworth, longtime collector of documents from Mormon history, is honored at a gathering in the Church History Library for making available some 9,000 documents through donation and sale to the Church History Department. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd


Collector’s Historical Documents Now Augment Church Archives

Brent F. Ashworth, a longtime collector of Church history memorabilia, recently donated and sold between 8,000 and 9,000 documents to the Church archives.

Brother Ashworth served two missions with the Church History Department.

Over the years, Brother Ashworth has collected more that a dozen documents from each prophet, from the Prophet Joseph Smith to President Thomas S. Monson.

For decades, he has been widely recognized as one of the most prolific and prominent collectors of documents and memorabilia from Church history, a personal passion that has been undergirded by a fervent testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ and of the latter-day Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Now, much of the vast collection of Brent F. Ashworth augments the archival holdings of the Church, resulting both from the sale of and personal donation by Brother Ashworth and his wife, Charlene.

That contribution was recognized February 7, 2013 at a gathering in the Church History Library attended by dozens of Ashworth extended family members, friends, and professional associates. Elder Steven E. Snow of the Seventy, Church Historian and Recorder, greeted the assembled well-wishers, as did Richard E. Turley Jr., assistant Church historian and recorder.

“Every once in a while, someone like Brent comes along that really, really makes a difference to the work,” Elder Snow said. “We’re most grateful for his kindness, really benefiting scholars, members of the Church, and others.”

Elder Snow said he loves Church history work because it dispels the notion that everything of significance to Church history has been found. “That’s really not the case,” he said. “We get calls all the time from people who’ve gotten into Grandma’s trunk and found some document that’s important. It’s like a treasure. We’re grateful for people like Brent finding these things and gathering them and making of them such a meaningful collection that truly will bless lives.”

Brother Turley said he has known Brother Ashworth for a long time. “During the time we’ve interacted, we’ve talked about the importance of having his materials come to the Church. That has been Brent’s wish. We talked about how we might make that happen.”

He said the size of Brother Ashworth’s collection puts it on “an institutional level,” and that the acquisition by the Church of his items is “almost as if we’re merging with another institution, because the collection is so very large.”

Indeed, the acquisition amounts to between 8,000 and 9,000 items, said Brad Westwood, manager of acquisitions at the Church History Library, who conducted the meeting.

“If you look at Church history and the inquiry into it in the last 30 or 40 years, you’ll see something in probably hundreds of books that in one way or another have been associated with Brent and his pursuit of Church history,” Brother Westwood said.

“We were able to purchase a number of things from Brent as well as what things are donated,” he added. “Typically, as a Church History Department, we don’t purchase unless they’re absolutely essential to understanding some core issue of the Church. It has to be evidentiary; it has to be something really significant. We are blessed by many people who have donated, and Brent has donated thousands and thousands of things, so we were pleased to also make a few select purchases. He purchased them; we’re grateful to do the same.”

Speaking to the gathering, Brother Ashworth paid tribute to his grandfather, an associate and employee of department store magnate J. C. Penney, and his grandmother, a “packrat” who saved everything. A box of her documents was saved from being burned by her family after her death because it was stored in the rafters of a garage. Later, Brother Ashworth found in that box nine letters that had been written by Church President Heber J. Grant to his grandmother responding to her letters about keeping her missionary son in the field even though family finances were tight.

“I thought after reading those letters 30 years later in 1961, ‘I know more about President Grant by reading those letters than anything I ever heard in Junior Sunday School; it would be great if I could collect something personal from each Church President,’” he said. Since then he has collected more than a dozen from each, from the Prophet Joseph Smith on down to President Thomas S. Monson.

His work of collecting has resulted in his personal acquaintance with some of the Church Presidents, including President Spencer W. Kimball and President Gordon B. Hinckley. He cherishes his experiences with them and shared some stories with the audience. He said President Hinckley in particular knew Church history “inside and out.”

In recent years, Brother Ashworth has served two missions with the Church History Department. In one, he helped identify and remove from circulation some Hofmann forgeries that had come into the Church collection in the 1980s. He was well acquainted with them because he, like the Church, was among document collectors who were victimized by the forgeries.

After his missions, Brother Ashworth was approached by the department about acquiring some of his rarer holdings. It was difficult, he quipped, because his documents seemed like his children to him. “But I could see I could not keep them with me forever.”

Brother Ashworth displayed a few selected documents from his collection that have been acquired by the Church and which give dramatic illustration to some of the better—and lesser-known—events of Church history.

One was a receipt written by Lyman Wight discharging Heber C. Kimball from the march of Zion’s Camp in Missouri.

A letter from Heber C. Kimball written when he was a young missionary in England in 1841 discusses a letter he received from his wife, Vilate, in Nauvoo, Illinois, reporting a funeral sermon in which the Prophet Joseph Smith introduced the concept of baptism for the dead.

Still another is a letter from Apostle Parley P. Pratt written from the Camp of Israel in Iowa as the Saints were crossing the plains after the Nauvoo exodus. It calls for the recruitment of 500 men in what became the Mormon Battalion.

Bearing testimony, Brother Ashworth said, “Over the years, I’ve really been blessed with this. I’ve been driven by it. I have really felt a mission, long before I was called as a missionary, to gather these things up, and I really haven’t known why.”

He said he has many times felt the Lord’s help and guidance in finding this or that document.

“I pay tribute to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he said. “I am so grateful and honored to be a member of His Church. I don’t have any question in my mind that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I have felt directed to pick up his papers wherever I could find them over the years.”

By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News, February 21, 2013

Recent Honor ~ Video


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