Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Format

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An analysis of claims made in the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" - Described format, binding, and dimensions

A FairMormon Analysis of: Wikipedia article "Golden plates", a work by author: Various

An analysis of claims made in the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" - Described format, binding, and dimensions


 Updated 9/21/2011

Section review

Described format, binding, and dimensions

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

The plates were said to be bound at one edge by a set of rings. In 1828, Martin Harris, is reported to have said that the plates were "fastened together in the shape of a book by wires".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

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The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

In 1859 Harris said that the plates "were seven inches [18 cm] wide by eight inches [20 cm] in length, and were of the thickness of plates of tin; and when piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches [10 cm] thick; and they were put together on the back by three silver rings, so that they would open like a book".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

David Whitmer, another of the Three Witnesses, was quoted by an 1831 Palmyra newspaper as having said the plates were "the thickness of tin plate; the back was secured with three small rings...passing through each leaf in succession".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Anomalously, Smith's father is quoted as saying that the plates were only half an inch (1.27 centimeter) thick.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    Joseph Smith's father is not "quoted" at all in the cited source. These are the words of Fayette Lapham,

In answer to our question, as to what it was that Joseph had thus obtained, he said it consisted of a set of gold plates, about six inches wide, and nine or ten inches long. They were in the form of a book, half an inch thick, but were not bound at the back, like our books, but were held together by several gold rings, in such a way that the plates could be opened similar to a book. Under the first plate, or lid, he found a pair of spectacles, about one and a half inches longer than those used at the present day, the eyes not of glass, but of diamond. On the next page were representations of all the masonic implements, as used by masons at the present day. off-site

  • One ought to note that Lapham's retelling of Joseph Smith Senior's story includes a number of anomalies.

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Smith's mother, who said she had "seen and handled" the plates, is quoted as saying they were "eight inches [20 cm] long, and six [15 cm] wide...all connected by a ring which passes through a hole at the end of each plate".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  • From the cited source, quoting Lucy Mack Smith:

I have myself seen and handled the golden plates; they are about eight inches long, and six wide; some of them are sealed together and are not to be opened, and some of them are loose. They are all connected by a ring which passes through a hole at the end of each plate, and are covered with letters beautifully engraved.

  • Note also the clear description that a portion of the plates were physically sealed: "some...are not to be opened, and some of them are loose."

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Hyrum Smith and John Whitmer, also witnesses in 1829, are reported to have stated that the rings holding the plates together were, in Hyrum's words, "in the shape of the letter D, which facilitated the opening and shutting of the book".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith's wife Emma and his younger brother William said they had examined the plates while wrapped in fabric. Emma said she "felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

William agreed that the plates could be rustled with one's thumb like the pages of a book.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    There is a bit of creative license being taken here. The cited source does not state that the "plates could be rustled with one's thumb like the pages of a book," nor does it state that William "agreed" with another source.
  • From the cited source:

When the plates were brought in they were wrapped in a tow frock. My father then put them into a pillow case. Father said, "What, Joseph, can we not see them?" "No, I was disobedient the first time, but I intend to be faithful this time; for I was forbidden to show them until they are translated, but you can feel them." We handled them and could tell what they were. They were not quite as large as this Bible. Could tell whether they were round or square. Could raise the leaves this way (raising a few leaves of the Bible before him). One could easily tell that they were not a stone, hewn out to deceive, or even a block of wood. Being a mixture of gold and copper, they were much heavier than stone, and very much heavier than wood.
—THE OLD SOLDIER'S TESTIMONY. Sermon preached by Bro. William B. Smith, in the Saints' Chapel, Deloit. Iowa, June 8th, 1884. Reported by C. Butterworth.

}}

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith did not provide his own published description of the plates until 1842, when he said in a letter that "each plate was six inches [15 cm] wide and eight inches [20 cm] long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were...bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches [15 cm] in thickness".

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  • From the cited source:

These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.

  • Also note the clear description that a portion of the plates were physically sealed.

}}

References

Wikipedia references for "Golden Plates"

Further reading

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