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Mark Hofmann check

 Collection — Folder: 1, Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 9022

Scope and Contents

Cancelled check no. 958 for the amount of $10,000. Check sent from Mark W. Hofmann to G. Ralph Bailey Pension Fund for "repayment of Lyn loan." Check dated May 31, 1985.


  • 1985 May 31


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Mark Hofmann check must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

Mark Hofmann (1954-) is a convict forger and murderer in Utah.

Mark W. Hofmann was born December 7, 1954 and grew up in the Salt Lake Valley, eventually graduating from Olympus High School and serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the England Southwest Mission. Hofmann seriously considered a career in medicine and he took a pre-med course of study at Utah State University in Logan.

Despite his original interests in medicine, Hofmann eventually became a coin collector, and by 1978 was also a serious student of Mormon documents. He sold his first Mormon document in October 1979. From then until 1985 he was active in hunting down and studying both Mormon and American historical documents, finding spectacular items month after month. Historians and document dealers repeatedly agreed that his documents seemed to be authentic.

The prices and the publicity seemed to increase with each discovery. Some of the documents purportedly challenged traditional stories of early Mormonism while others fit neatly into the generally accepted history but added details not known before. Hofmann made a point of selling many of his discoveries to Mormon buyers.

While Hofmann's documents at first seemed legitimate, eventually their validity was questioned. In order to prevent his forgeries from being unraveled, Hofmann constructed bombs to murder several targets who could possibly speak out against him. He succeeded in murdering two individuals, but Hofmann himself fell victim to one of his own bombs, which ultimately caused the police to suspect him as the man behind the other bombings. It is argued that Hofmann committed the murders to hide his own guilt and fraud. Hofmann was officially charged with two counts of murder and twenty-three counts of theft by deception and communications fraud on February 3, 1986.

A preliminary hearing was held from April 14 to May 13, 1986, and much of 1986 was spent in the airing of charges and counter-charges, mostly in the press. Finally on January 23, 1987, as a result of a plea bargain, Hofmann pled guilty to two counts of communications fraud (for the Martin Harris letter and the McLellin Papers) and admitted guilty to the bombings. Twenty-six other counts were dismissed, and Hofmann agreed to be interviewed about the murders and documents. He was assigned to Utah State Prison with a life sentence. He remains there to this day.

On July 31, 1987 the County Attorney's office released the six hundred page transcript of the interviews its staff had conducted with Hofmann from February 11 to May 27. In these, Hofmann confessed that all the documents listed on statement of probable cause were forged. He also described in some detail how he created the forgeries.

Some forgeries made by Mark Hofmann are still in circulation, and he is still regarded as one of the most successful forgers of his time.


1 folder (0.1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Brent Ashworth, a collector who deals with Hofmann forgeries, gave the check to Peter Crawley in 1998, who then donated it on September 14, 2006.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Peter Crawley; September 14, 2006.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy II.B.5.VI, August 2007).


A note was included with the check which says "The note on the memo line of this check says 'Re-payment Lyn Loan,' and a red stamp on the front reads 'Refer to Maker.' Lyn Jacobs, Hofmann's sidekick, borrowed some sum of money from Bailey and put up his collection of foreign-language Mormon pieces as collateral. Eventually, Lyn defaulted on the loan, and Bailey took possession of the collection, which he subsequently sold to Barnard Silver. One might infer from this check that Hofmann was supposed to repay the loan, at least in part, and his failure to do so - as evidenced by this bounced check - caused the collection to pass from Jacobs to Bailey to Silver - who at this moment cannot locate some parts of it."

Processing Information

Processed; Jeremy Meservy, student manuscript processr, and John M. Murphy, curator; June 26, 2017.

Register of Mark Hofmann check
Jeremy Meservy
2017 June 26
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States