The Golden Plates of the Prophet

This is merely an discursion on the discovery by Joseph Smith of The Book of Mormon. Refraining from snark.
The Prophet-to-be found the treasure through angelic instruction in a hill in New York State. Which makes one wonder how many more untold treasure troves are still unearthed in the North-East.
Some witnesses described the plates as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg), being golden in color, and being composed of thin metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with three D-shaped rings.

Wiki — The Golden Plates
At that weight one may assume the metal was either gold, or another noble metal — since it was still imperishable after 2000 years +, buried in the cold damp earth. Either way it would have been as valuable as gold, since unknown elements like unto gold would have been sought after. I may add I have read a lot of books, but none that weighed 60lb, and doubt if I could.
Smith managed to read and translate the script of ‘Reformed Egyptian’ [ Why Egyptian I can’t tell, since Babylon is a long way from Egypt, and it would have been simpler for the Lord to dictate this stuff in Hebrew, or some Babylonian adjacent language, or even Early Anglo-Saxon, since that was the language of Smith’s forebears, and the Lord could foresee whom His Prophet would be. ] by means of a scrying stone the size of an egg found in a deep well. He also set two stones in a pair of spectacles and peered through them at the text, dictating as he went along. Alternatively he put the pair of stones in his white top hat.

Anyway, let us assume the gold plates weighed 50lb as a convenient mean. I shall explain later why he couldn’t cash in on this discovery.
This is 50lb avoirdupois, not 50lb troy. The jeweller’s measure, troy has 12 oz to the pound. and avoirdupois has 16 oz to the pound; yet one of my sources below states ‘There are approximately 14.583 troy ounces in an avoirdupois pound.’ — so I shall reckon, again for simplicity, 15 troy oz to the lb.
From 1800 to 1835 gold averaged $19 an oz ( actually, in this chart gold rarely hit more than $21 an oz until 1930. It was in 2010 $1,410 an oz ).

Historical Price of Gold Chart

50lb x 15 oz x $19 = $14,250 in 1827

Today, 2014, 50lb of gold = $854,016.94

Only Gold — What’s Your Weight In Gold ?
However, it’s more complex, since there are different values between money in the past and money now.

Measuring Worth will only calculate to recent years, since GDP isn’t finalized for 2014. So, putting in £14250 of 1827 and calculating it to 2012 gives:
**In 2012, the relative value of $14,250.00 from 1827 ranges from $338,000.00 to $251,000,000.00. **
The last is Economic Power — this is well illustrated in the pop-up on George Washington’s remuneration, $25k a year, on that page — When comparing Washington’s salary to an unskilled worker, or the measure of average income, GDP per capita, then the comparable numbers are $12 to $27 million. Granted that would not put him in the ranks of the top 25 executives today that make over $200 million. It would, however, be many times more than any elected official in this country is paid today. Finally, to show the “economic power” of his wage, we see that his salary as a share of GDP would rank him equivalent to $2.1 billion.. Revolution was his friend.

So, looking at it one way, Joe could have, had he purchased a mule and wended to New York City, come away with $14k. Which to quote from The Mausoleum Club *, ‘was a lot of money in those days’. Or he could have invested it in futures and made a fortune.

  • Tales of. Fall of.
    So why didn’t the Revelator simply take the money and run, going some place he could be adored by the simple and get all the tail he wanted without that annoying business in Carthage ? Although he was neither a conscious fraud nor a criminal, he was not over-scrupulous:

Wiki — Joseph Smith and the criminal justice system
Simply, it was a condition of his discovery that he be pure of heart and ‘have no thought of monetary gain’.

Plus — Shades of The Treasure of Abbot Thomas— ’ when Smith once again raised the stone and attempted to retrieve the plates, Smith saw something in the box like a toad that grew larger and struck him to the ground’.

Moved MPSIMS --> GD.

According to the Book of Mormon itself, the reason “Reformed Egyptian” is used instead of standard Hebrew is because the “ancient” scribes were trying to save space on their very costly, improbable metal plates. It was also a convenient explanation why only Smith could translate, instead of a Hebrew scholar.

The Book of Mormon has several of these types of passages, anticipatory excuses for any perceived mistakes. It’s clear that Smith was a little insecure of his scriptural composition.

After all that mess with the Bible, is it any wonder? :smiley:
Anyhoo, what’s your point, Claverhouse? What’s the discussion?

I thought we were discussing random tidbits about LDS. At least that’s what I got from the OP.

As you may see above, it was originally in MPSIMS.
Nonetheless, since I’ve never seen it calculated — although I have no doubt various mormons have considered it — I thought it interesting that a professed treasure hunter by trade, utilizing those useful stones for divining before, coming across the equivalent of Cappy Kidd’s Treasure, forwent gain and obeyed the Lord. Or His Deputy Moroni. Or someone usually conjured up by the ingesting of special mushrooms.
My thanks to Erdosain for explaining the choice of language. Of course, this knowledge of Reformed Egyptian later was vital to Smith’s decipherment of random papyri purchased by the Prophet along with some mummies from a travelling show. Which gave us the Pearl of Great Price.

Yes, you have to admire Joseph Smith’s knack of being in the right place at the right time. Despite a marked absence of any other ancient artifacts turning up in Western New York, he discovered a trove of ancient metal records, a sword, and the Urim and Thummim (of Biblical fame!) buried just a few miles from his home. Amazing!

Then, when he purchased a few mummies and papyrus documents from Michael Chandler in 1835, he just happened to get the very papyrus that Abraham himself had written his history on. I mean, wow! All the thousands of Egyptian papyrus that we have in museums around the world today, and zero were written by even one of the lesser prophets, let alone the father of three major religions. That’s some great luck, Joseph! It makes the Dead Sea Scrolls look like a pile of puke. The Essenes? Call me back when you get the private diary of one of the Patriarchs.

It’s just a shame that the diagrams from this AMAZING papyrus, which are included in every Mormon’s scriptures to this day, are incorrectly labeled, incorrectly translated, and actually have nothing to do with Abraham. Now that’s a bit of bad luck. Well, I guess no one can be super lucky all the time, Joseph. Drown your sorrows in your maid. I mean, your second wife. That’s the ticket!

Isn’t that what happened? Word for word?

Haven’t read it, but I think that the gist of Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History is that Smith started out as a fraud and a con man, but then at some point came to buy into his own hype, i.e. began to believe in his own supposed revelations.

Note that one avoirdupois ounce is 28.3495 grams. One troy ounce is 31.1034768 grams.

Well, if I was directed to engraved gold plates and then handed stones that allowed me to easily decipher the unknown to all language used, I would be pretty impressed too, and I certainly wouldn’t want to anger the divinity that hand picked me by selling them, regardless of the price.

So, if the story is genuine, it makes complete sense.

So what’s He gonna Do ? Have you killed by a mob as punishment ?

Isn’t that more or less the same story as many claim was behind L. Ron Hubbard? Started out as an awkward guy without that many useful skills other than wordsmithing the truth to it’s limit and was not scared of outright lying if it suited his purposes. Eventually he got into ritual magick and woo pop psych stuff and started to believe he was a genius.

You have to remember, this is also the God that kept Smith in hot and cold running tail his whole life. I mean, God sent an angel with a flaming sword to FORCE Joseph Smith to bang his sixteen-year-old maid. It’s almost like God as a Penthouse Forum Writer. I guess that’s what happens when you can create your own God–he’s very concerned that you get all the money and sex you so desperately need.

And this seems to be common to a lot of “cult” type groups. They are experts in crafting messages that mean exactly what they want and very carefully dodge around uncomfortable truths. So a man who barely made it through boot camp, was a complete doofus in the field, once stubbed his toe while trying to inventory captured rifles in a bunker that was recently captured by the rest of his team (It was captured while he was in the field hospital complaining of a headache, and the inventory had to be redone anyway by someone else), and was finally granted a wink-wink promotion to Private First Class to get him to not fight an early discharge becomes, in cult literature, an honored war hero who bravely put the wound he sustained in the bowels of an enemy lair aside to continue to serve his country and even received a promotion within a month of his scheduled discharge. Being prosecuted by local authorities for making false statements in official materials becomes surviving against the assaults of those who would destroy us by attacking the very words of our Prophet.

It’s hard, very hard, to find actual lies. But are the materials remotely accurate, fair, and balanced? Of course not.

I find it moderately amusing that, according to sources, he translated the plates by putting the stones in his hat, putting his hat over his face, and dictating.

So, he was literally talking through his hat.

Is that where that term comes from?

A hypothesis that I’ve been told by an actual Mormon was that the plates were actually written in the Hebrew language, but using a form of shorthand that was based on Egyptian characters. This was apparently advantageous to the writers because the plates didn’t have a lot of space on them and they wanted to write as compactly as possible to cram everything they wanted to say into that little space. Transliteration happens all the time today when it suits people’s purposes - for example two speakers of Japanese might write Japanese to each other using Roman characters (A-Z) because they are communicating using an email system that doesn’t support Japanese characters. Why can’t they just go and get a Japanese-capable system? Maybe they can’t afford one. Or maybe there’s not enough time to set one up.

Do I think that they actually were in Hebrew using Egyptian characters? No, I don’t think they existed at all. But it’s at least plausible.

That’s the reverse of the example you presented. That would mean using an hieroglyphic system as a shorthand for an alphabetic system.

You say it’s at least plausible, I say it makes no sense at all.

Assuming the plates ever existed in the first place. Personally, I find south park’s take on the issue rather… enlightening.