I know that the original thread was closed, but that was on account of some stupidity and name-calling. I’m hoping we can be mature and not sink into that sort of thing. I also hope I’m not violating any rules by re-addressing this, because I just came back on, and one question wasn’t answered correctly.
What you’re referring to almost certainly isn’t the Kinderhook Plate (a 19th century hoax that has since been disproven, and which didn’t originally have anything directly to do with the Mormons), but the so-called “Anthon Transcript”. Shortly after Joseph Smith started translating the gold plates, his friend and financial backer Martin Harris (who ultimately mortgaged his house in order to pay for the first publication of the Book of Mormon) took a copy of some of the characters from the Book (along with Smith’s translations) down to New York City to be inspected by a Professor Anthon, supposedly an expert on Ancient Egypt.
This as before the knowledge of hieroglyphics due to Champollion and the oft-neglected Thomas Young became widely known, so it’s likely that no one in New York City was able to translate hieroglyphics. According to the account given by Harris, Anthon was impressed by the characters of “reformed egyptian” and the translation. According to an account supposed to have been written by Anthon himself (and repriented in, among other books, the workds of Gerald and Sylvia Tanner, whence I have them), Anthon recognized the characters as spurious and non-Egyptian. Which is correct? You pays your belief money and you takes your chances. I was brung up non-LDS, so I’m forced to take option two. I have LDS friends who were raised on this belief, and they take option 1. The best thing to do, I think, is to simply note our differences. None of us are stupid people, but it’s unlikely that any of us are going to change our minds.
Anthon described the document that he saw. Years later, a document surfaced in the possession of one of the LDS founders who had left the Church (although he didn’t deny it), claming to be a copy of the characters. It’s also called the Anthon Transcript, even though it doesn’t actually resemble Anthon’s description. He said that the characters were written in vertical columns, with a figure in a circle at the end. The existing transcript is in horizontal rows, with no circle at the end.
Around 1980 a guy named Hoffman claimed to have found THE original Antho transcript, stuck between two pages in a Smith family bible. It was on old paper folded into quarters, and it resembled Anthon’s description. The LDS Church was ecstatic. When the LDS Museum of Church History frst opened, they published four documents as souvenirs, copies of important Church documents, and the Hoffman Anthon transcript was one of these. The Tanners also published copies in their books.
About five years later Hoffma was arrested for mrder, attempted murder, and forgery. He’d produced a great many LDS Church documents and essentially blackmailed the LDS Church into buying them at inflated prices. Then he released the contents to LDS Church Critics, anyway. When one such scheme started to unravel, he killed one person with a pipe bomb and tried to set others. He was caught in the explosion of one of his bombs, but survived. ne condition for a lighter sentence was to tell all. He told how he’d forged all the Church documents, some of them highly embarassing but false). He’s in prison still, for life.
What amazes me is his research and psychology. He knew which documents people were looking for, and what they expected to find in them. The Anthon Manuscript was a prime example – his version matches Anthon’s description, making it seem authentic. But it’s even better than that – Hoffman’s version makes the previous “Anthon transcript” look like a bad copy of Hofman’s document!
So that’s the story. None of the Gold PLates is around today, but we have the Whitmer copy and a few other copies of some of the characters (some reportedly appeared in advertsements for the BoM).