PLATES OF GOLD (BOOK OF MORMON)

The following are sections out of Bill McKeever’s book In their Own Words: A Collection of Mormon Quotations. The full book of 400 pages is available at Mormonism Research Ministry or Amazon.com.

Standard Works

“And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true
they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings,
and they are of pure gold” (The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 8:9).

“He called me by name, and said he was a messenger sent from the
presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni… He said
there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account
of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source
from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting
Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the
ancient inhabitants” (Joseph Smith History 1:33-34. Ellipsis mine).

Joseph Smith

“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
breast plate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim
I translated the record by the gift and power of God” (Joseph
Smith, History of The Church 4:537).

“I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this
country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came;
a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments,
of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of
God being finally withdrawn from them as a people was made
known unto me: I was also told where there was deposited some
plates on which were engraven an abridgement of the records of
the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel
appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the
same things. After having received many visits from the angels of
God unfolding the majesty, and glory of the events that should
transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22d of September
A. D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my
hands. 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” (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 3:707, March 1,
1842).

2nd President Brigham Young

“Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited
these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was
a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of
Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel
instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he
did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill
opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large
and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether
they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just
as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table
that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates
as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room
more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up
in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there
the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again
it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold
plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This
sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this
world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ’” (Brigham
Young, June 17, 1877, Journal of Discourses 19:38).

4th President Wilford Woodruff

“President Young said in relation to Joseph Smith returning the
Plates of the Book of Mormon that He did not return them to the
Box from wh[ence?] He had Received But He went [1 m/in?] a
Cave in the Hill Comoro with Oliver Cowdry & deposited those
plates upon a table or shelf. In that room were deposited a large
amount of gold plates Containing sacred records & when they first
visited that Room the sword of Laban was Hanging upon the wall
& when they last visited it the sword was drawn from the scabbard
& [laid?] upon a table & a Messenger who was the keeper of
the room informed them that that sword would never be retumed
to its scabbard untill the Kingdom of God was Esstablished upon
the Earth & untill it reigned triumphant over Evry Enemy. Joseph
Smith said that Cave Contained tons of Choice Treasures & records”
(Wilford Woodruff, Waiting for World’s End: The Diaries of
Wilford Woodruff, Susan Staker, ed., p. 300. Recounting Brigham
Young’s remarks from December 11, 1869. Brackets, spelling, and
punctuation in original).

First Presidency

“The work of translation was commenced and continued until
completed, when the plates were returned to the messenger from
whom he had received them, and Joseph Smith proceeded to publish
their contents to the world in the form known as the Book of
Mormon” (Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Reports, April 1921, p. 19).

Apostles

“Now what evidence have we that the Book of Mormon is a divine
revelation? I will bring forth some evidence upon this subject. Before
this book was permitted to be presented to the inhabitants of
the earth, the Lord raised up witnesses. Before it was printed, in
the year 1829, three witnesses were raised up to bear testimony to
it. Now, how could these witnesses get a knowledge that this book
was divine? Were they merely told that it was so by the Prophet
Joseph Smith, who translated the book from the metallic plates
that were taken out of a certain hill in the State of New York? Was
this all the information they had before they commenced bearing
testimony to the world of the divinity of the book? If this was
all, then all who knew Joseph Smith might be witnesses. But we
are told in the forepart of the book the nature of their evidence
and testimony. We are told that David Whitmer, Martin Harris and
Oliver Cowdery, in the year 1829, before this book was published,
saw an angel of God come down from heaven, and take the plates
from which it was translated, and he exhibited them before the
eyes of these three men, turning them over leaf after leaf. They
saw the angel descend; they saw his glorious personage; they beheld
the light and glory of his countenance; they saw the plates in
his hands, and they saw the engravings upon the pages of these
plates. While the angel was doing this before them, they heard
a voice in the heavens, declaring unto them that the plates had
been translated correctly, and commanding them to bear testimony
of it to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people to whom this
work should be sent” (Orson Pratt, September 28, 1873, Journal of
Discourses 16:211-212).

“In the course of time, when the people became wicked again,
after having had a long period of the greatest happiness of any
people on earth, a celebrated prophet, by the name of Mormon, a
righteous man, distinguished among his people for his virtues, his
intelligence, and his power of Priesthood, received instructions
from the Lord to write the history of his people in an abridged
form, before destruction should come upon them. He did so, and
wrote it upon plates of pure gold, and in the language called the
reformed Egyptian—a language which no people knew very well;
and he being a prophet and having the Urim and Thummim, hid
it up with these plates, so that in due time the plates should come
forth and the means to interpret the record on them” (Franklin
D. Richards, October 5, 1895, [Conference message], Collected Discourses
4:370).

“The plates upon which the Book of Mormon was engraved were
made of gold and have been described as being about six inches
wide by eight inches long by six inches thick. A cube of solid
gold of that size, if the gold were pure, would weigh two hundred
pounds, which would be a heavy weight for a man to carry,
even though he were of the athletic type of Joseph Smith. This
has been urged as an evidence against the truth of the Book of
Mormon, since it is known that on several occasions the Prophet
carried the plates in his arms. It is very unlikely, however, that the
plates were made of pure gold. They would have been too soft
and in danger of destruction by distortion. For the purpose of
record keeping, plates made of gold mixed with a certain amount
of copper would be better, for such plates would be firmer, more
durable and generally more suitable for the work in hand. If the
plates were made of eight karat gold, which is gold frequently used
in present-day jewelry, and allowing a 10 percent space between
the leaves, the total weight of the plates would not be above one
hundred and seventeen pounds—a weight easily carried by a man
as strong as was Joseph Smith” (John A. Widtsoe and Franklin S.
Harris, Jr., Seven Claims of the Book of Mormon, pp. 37-38).

“If it be assumed that enough copper had been added to make
the alloy an eight carat gold, the plates would be hard and stiff
enough to preserve inscriptions made upon them. If the plates
were of such an alloy, and if about ten per cent were allowed for
the spaces between the leaves, the weight of the plates would be
in the neighborhood of one hundred pounds. This would not be
an excessive weight for a young man of the strength of Joseph
Smith” (John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith: Seeker after Truth, Prophet of
God, p. 38).

“THE Book of Mormon is preeminently an American book, comprising
the history of the aboriginal peoples of the New World. It
professes to be the modern translation of certain records, covering
the period from B. C. 600 to about A. D. 420, with which is
incorporated the abridgment of a yet earlier history. The original
account was inscribed on thin sheets of gold, in small characters
of the Reformed Egyptian style. The plates were taken from their
repository on the side of a hill near Palmyra, New York” (James E.
Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, p. 132).

“On the occasion of his first visit to Joseph Smith, Moroni told of
the existence of the record, which, he said, was engraved on plates
of gold, at that time lying buried in the side of a hill near Joseph’s
home. The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient
peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra
in the State of New York. The precise spot where the plates lay
was shown to Joseph in vision; and he had no difficulty in finding
it on the day following the visitation referred to. James E. Talmage,
Articles of Faith, 1984, pp. 231-232).

“The plates of the Book of Mormon as delivered by the angel Moroni
to Joseph Smith, according to the description given by the
latter-day prophet, were, as far as he knew, of gold, of uniform size,
each about seven inches wide by eight inches long, and in thickness
a little less than that of ordinary sheet tin. They were fastened
together by three rings running through the plates near one edge;
together they formed a book nearly six inches in thickness, but
not all has been translated, a part having been sealed. Both sides
of the plates were engraved with small characters, described by
those who examined them as of curious workmanship, with the
appearance of ancient origin” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith,
1984, pp. 237-238).

“In coming back from the dead, Moroni was a physical being of
literal, corporeal, material reality. He held those heavy gold plates
in his hands. A block of metal measuring seven-by-seven-by-eight
inches could weigh anywhere from thirty to fifty pounds. But Moroni
held them in his hands and turned over the pages with his
fingers. His were flesh and bone hands, resurrected hands” (Mark
E. Petersen, “Evidence of Things Not Seen,” Ensign (Conference
Edition), May 1978, p. 63).

“Not all of these records were made on gold. Ancient peoples also
wrote upon silver plates, brass plates, copper plates, lead plates,
and in some instances even on tin, which proved not to be fully
permanent, since it is subject to oxidation more readily than some
other metals” (Mark E. Petersen, “The Angel Moroni Came!” Ensign
(Conference Edition), November 1983, pp. 29-30).

“Recorded on plates of gold, the Book of Mormon gives an account
of Christ’s ministry in the Western Hemisphere, just as the
Bible records His life and ministry in the Holy Land. Joseph received
the gold plates four years later and, in December of 1827,
began to translate the Book of Mormon” (Robert D. Hales, “Preparations
for the Restoration and the Second Coming: ‘My Hand
Shall Be over Thee’,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November
2005, p. 91).

Church Manuals

“The Lord prepared a way to prevent Satan from destroying the
Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon through the loss
of the 116 manuscript pages over 2,000 years before. He had instructed
the prophet Nephi to make a second set of plates covering
the same time period as the manuscript that would be lost. A
major difference between the two records is that the lost portion
was more of a history, while the duplicate part if more prophetic
and sacred (see 1 Nephi 9:3-6; Words of Mormon 1:1-7)” (Doctrine
and Covenants and Church History Seminary Student Guide, 2001,
p. 23).

Other Sources

“It may be well to state, that the prophet of God, in ancient days,
according to the accounts of men, kept their sacred records on
plates of gold, and those of less consequence on plates of brass,
copper, wood, &c., see Jahn’s biblical archeology, Josephus, and
others. These plates were generally made from the sixteenth to
the thirty second part of an inch thick (of metal) and something
like six by eight inches square, and fastened at the back with three
rings through which a rod was put to carry them, or hang them.
The word of the Lord, the history of the doings of the children
of God, and their genealogy was engraved in a nice workmanlike
manner, upon them, in Hebrew, reformed Egyptian, &c. Such
was the condition of the plates, from which came the book of
Mormon” (The Evening and the Morning Star, January 1833, Vol.1,
No. 8).

“This is their own declaration of faith in that point: A young man
named Joseph Smith, in the western part of New York, guided, as
he says, by Divine Inspiration, found, in 1830, a kind of stone chest
or vault containing a number of thin plates of gold held together
by a ring, on which they were all strung, and engraved with unknown
characters” (Times and Seasons 2:305-306).

“I was permitted to lift them as they laid in a pillow-case; but not
to see them, as it was contrary to the commands he had received.
They weighed about sixty pounds according to the best of my
judgment” (William Smith, as cited by Francis W. Kirkham, A New
Witness for Christ in America 2:417).

“Joseph, on coming to them, took them from their secret place,
and, wrapping them in his linen frock, placed them under his
arm and started for home. After proceeding a short distance, he
thought it would be more safe to leave the road and go through
the woods. Traveling some distance after he left the road, he came
to a large windfall, and as he was jumping over a log, a man sprang
up from behind it and gave him a heavy blow with a gun. Joseph
turned around and knocked him down, then ran at the top of his
speed. About half a mile farther he was attacked again in the same
manner as before; he knocked this man down in like manner as
the former and ran on again; and before he reached home he was
assaulted the third time. In striking the last one, he dislocated his
thumb, which, however, he did not notice until he came within
sight of the house, when he threw himself down in the corner of
the fence in order to recover his breath. As soon as he was able,
he arose and came to the house. He was still altogether speechless
from fright and the fatigue of running” (Lucy Mack Smith, History
of Joseph Smith by His Mother, p. 108. See also Church History on the
Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2003, p. 45).

“Dear Sister, It is my pleasure to inform you of a great work which
the Lord has wrought in our family, for he has made his paths
known to Joseph in dreams and it pleased God to show him where
he could dig to obtain an ancient record engraven upon plates
made of pure gold and this he is able to translate” (Dean C. Jessee,
“Lucy Mack Smith’s 1829 Letter to Mary Smith Pierce,” BYU
Studies, Fall 1982, p. 461).

“Such are the statements made on the dimensions of the plates
and all show really slight variations. David Whitmer’s estimate of
the size amounts to fifty-four square inches, but he says nothing of
the thickness of the volume. Martin Harris gives us fifty-six square
inches as the size of the plates and four inches as the thickness of
the volume. Orson Pratt accepts the first figure of Martin Harris
but gives six inches as the thickness, as does the Prophet Joseph
Smith. According to the latter, each plate had a surface of forty-eight
square inches” (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl,
Commentary on the Book of Mormon 2:310).

“Regarding the Weight. Thirty-five twenty-dollar gold pieces would
cover a surface of about seven by eight inches. To make a column
four inches high, forty-eight such pieces would be needed. Consequently,
thirty-five times forty-eight twenty dollar gold pieces, or
1,680 in all, would make up the dimensions of the plates, seven
by eight by four inches. A twenty-dollar gold piece weighs twenty-one
and one-half penny-weights. That would make a total of 123
pounds. From this estimate liberal deductions must be made. The
plates were not pure gold. The Plates of Nephi were made of ore,
and Moroni also mentions ore as the material of which his plates
were made. (Mormon 8:5) The ore, possibly a copper alloy, must
have been considerably lighter in weight than the twenty-three
karat gold of which a twenty-dollar piece is made. We cannot suppose
that the plates fitted as closely together as gold coins do when
stacked up in a column. There must have been some space between
each pair, especially if, as is probable, they were hammered”
(George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of
Mormon, 2:314. Italics in original).

“R. H. Putnam has argued persuasively that the Book of Mormon
plates that were in Joseph Smith’s hands were of tumbaga. (Had
they been unalloyed gold, they would have been too heavy for a
single person to carry)” (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American
Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 283. Italics in original).

“Amidst all the comings and goings, Joseph took up the translation
again. Emma wrote his dictation most of the time, although
she says her brother Reuben Hale helped. Emma had none of
Martin’s trouble in believing Joseph. When the plates were not in
her red morocco trunk, they lay on the table wrapped in a linen
table cloth. ‘I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table,’
she later told Joseph Smith III, ‘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.’ She occasionally
moved them around on the table as her work required it”
(Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism,
pp. 95-96).

“He has also been instructed by an angel, Moroni, who had met
with him each year for four years. On his last visit, he was entrusted
with plates of solid gold, which he had been translating by the
power of the Spirit” (“Hands on Opportunity,” Church News, May
15, 1999, p. 16).

“Mr. Whitmer is considered a truthful, honest and law abiding
citizen by this community, and consequentially, his appointment
drew out a large audience. Mr. Whitmer stated that he had often
handled the identical golden plates which Mr. Smith received
from the hand of the angel, he said it was of pure gold, part of the
book was sealed up solid, the other part was open and it was this
part which was translated, and is termed today the Mormon Bible”
(I. C. Funn interview with David Whitmer, Saints’ Herald, February
15, 1878, p. 57).

“What of the prophet’s story about gold plates, and what about his
witnesses? Given [Fawn McKay] Brodie’s assumptions, was there
not deception here, if not collusion? Brodie maintains that the
Prophet exercised some mysterious influence upon the witnesses
which caused them to see the plates, thus making Joseph Smith
once more the perpetrator of a religious fraud. The evidence is
extremely contradictory in this area, but there is a possibility that
the three witnesses saw the plates in vision only, for Stephen Burnett
in a letter written in 1838, a few weeks after the event, described
Martin Harris’ testimony to this effect: Burnett reported
Harris saying that he had ‘hefted the plates repeatedly in a box
with only a tablecloth or handkerchief over them, but he never
saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain.’ Nonetheless,
Harris said he believed the Book of Mormon to be true. In the
revelation given the three witnesses before they viewed the plates
they were told, ‘it is by your faith that you shall view them’ and ‘ye
shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph
Smith Jr. has seen them, for it is by my power that he has seen
them.’ There is testimony from several independent interviewers,
all non-Mormon, that Martin Harris and David Whitmer said they
saw the plates with their ‘spiritual eyes’ only. Among others, A.
Metcalf and John Gilbert, as well as Reuben P. Harmon and Jesse
Townsend, gave testimonies to this effect. This is contradicted,
however, by statements like that of David Whitmer in the Saints
Herald in 1882, ‘these hands handled the plates, these eyes saw
the angel.’ But Z. H. Gurley elicited from Whitmer a not so positive
response to the question, ‘did you touch them?’ His answer
was, ‘We did not touch nor handle the plates.’” (Marvin S. Hill,
“Brodie Revisited: A Reappraisal,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon
Thought, Vol.7, No.4, pp. 83-84. Brackets mine).

“The plates were not so heavy that a man could not carry them.
Joseph Smith was a man of youth and vigor, yet Mormon was 74
years of age when he turned them over to his son. (See Morm.
6:6) We are not led to believe that the weight of the plates was
a great hindrance. The witnesses testified that they had ‘hefted’
them, indicating the weight seemed tolerable” (Read H. Putnam,
“Were the Golden Plates made of Tumbaga?” The Improvement Era,
September 1966, p. 789).

“Some writers have suggested an 8-carat-gold alloy for the plates of
Mormon. If this is assumed, then, using the gravimetric system of
William C. Rott, a block having the dimensions of the plates would
consist of 25.79 pounds of gold occupying 37 cubic inches of the
block; 77.84 pounds of copper, occupying 242.5 cubic inches; and
3.25 pounds of silver (3 percent added as an impurity), occupying
8.5 cubic inches. Thus a block of tumbaga of the dimensions
indicated for the plates of the Book of Mormon and with 8-carat
alloy and 3-percent native impurity would weigh 106.88 pounds.
Using such a block as a beginning point, 50 percent of the weight
should be subtracted for air space; thus the weight of the stack of
plates would be about 53 pounds. If these figures seem unrealistic,
remember that gold has twice the density of copper and therefore
occupies about one-sixth of the total volume. If each plate
were .02 of an inch thick, it would occupy up to .05 of an inch in
the stack, and there would be 20 plates to the inch. The unsealed
portion would then consist of 40 plates or 80 sides. Present-day
food cans are manufactured of metal that is about .01” to .015”
thick. How this compares with the ‘common tin’ referred to by
Joseph Smith remains to be investigated. If the plates have been
made from a 12-carat-gold alloy, they would have weighed 86.83
pounds, following the same system used for the 8-carat postulate.
As the proportion of gold in the alloy is increased, so are the alloy’s
weight and ductility and the tendency of the plates, if hammered
very thin, to distort and wrinkle” (Read H. Putnam, “Were
the Golden Plates made of Tumbaga?” Improvement Era, September
1966, pp. 830-831).

“We must conclude that ancient American smiths had sufficient
knowledge and skill to make a set of plates using the alloy that the
Spaniards called tumbaga. The plates of the Book of Mormon,
we allege, were of this alloy and were probably of between 8- and
12-carat gold. They thus appear to have weighed between 53 and
86 pounds. We further allege that the plates were manufactured
by hammering the metal to a thickness of .02 of an inch with a
23-carat gilded surface of .0006 of an inch, resulting in a hardness
of 30 Brinells to the engravers tool, while the center of the plate
maintained a Brinell of 80 or above” (Read H. Putnam, “Were
the Golden Plates made of Tumbaga?” Improvement Era, September
1966, pp. 830-831).

“The gold plates that the Prophet Joseph Smith received and
translated were the plates of Mormon on which Mormon and
his son Moroni made their abridgment. Mormon, a prophet and
military leader who lived at the end of the nephite era (c. A.D.
385), was the penultimate custodian of the records of earlier
Nephite prophets and rulers. In particular, he had the large plates
of Nephi, which were the official Nephite chronicle and which
he was commanded to continue (Morm. 1:4). He later made his
own plates of Mormon, on which he compiled an abridgment
of the large plates of Nephi (W of M 1:3-5; 3 Ne. 5:9-10), which
covered 985 years of Nephite history, from Lehi’s day to his. The
large plates drew on still earlier records and the writings of various
prophets and frequently included various source materials such as
letters, blessings, discourses, and memoirs” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism
1:197-198).

“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
breast plate” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 1:200).
“Moroni eventually delivered these plates to Joseph, who translated
and published them as the Book of Mormon and returned
them to Moroni” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 2:555).

“Neither Joseph nor any of the witnesses said that the ancient record
was made from solid gold. Nor did they use the term ‘gold
plates,’ or ‘plates of gold.’ All Joseph said is that they had the ‘appearance
of gold.’ The presumption that the plates were made
of solid gold is curious but probably not correct. It was Joseph’s
enemies that coined the phrase, ‘Gold Bible.’ It is more appropriate
to refer to the ancient metal records as the ‘Golden Plates,”
referring to their color, not the material they were made of” (Kirk
B. Henrichsen, “What did the golden plates look like?” New Era,
July 2007, p. 29).

“Oliver reported in 1834, ‘to write from his mouth, as he translated
with the Urim and Thummim….’ When Martin had taken
dictation from Joseph, they hung a blanket between them to prevent
Martin from inadvertently catching a glimpse of the plates
contrary to the angel’s instructions. By the time Oliver arrived,
they did not always follow that practice. Emma said she sat at the
same table with Joseph, writing as he dictated, with nothing between
them. When Oliver took up the job of scribe, he and Joseph
translated in the same room where Emma was working. There was
no problem with the plates because Joseph looked in the seerstone
or the interpreters, and the plates lay covered on the table”
(Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism,
p. 97. Ellipsis in original).