The Weight of the Plates

109 Primary Sources

Aug 1829 - Jan 1830

The Eight Witnesses's manuscript testimony.

Aug 11, 1829

Hadley describes dimensions of plates.

Nov 9, 1829

Oliver Cowdery, in a letter to C. C. Blatchley, reports that the plates were "laid before" the witnesses by an angel.

Feb 20, 1830

Blatchley states that the plates are said to weigh 30 lbs.

Feb 20, 1830

C.C. Blatchley claims that Joseph and the 3 Witnesses informed him that the world must take their word for the existence of the plates.

Mar 26, 1830

8 Witnesses published statement in 1830 claiming that Joseph showed them the plates.

Dec 1830

The Philadelphia Album reports that the plates were 7x6x6 and the sheets were the thickness of tin.

Jan 15, 1831

In a letter, Phelps says "the family of Smiths is poor."

Mar 15, 1831

E. D. Howe reports that Martin Harris was said to have handled the plates "by the power of God."

Mar 19, 1831

Dogberry reports the weight of plates to be more than 20 lbs.

Mar 19, 1831

Dogberry reports the dimensions of plates to be 8 inches square.

Sep 3, 1831

William Owen reports that ten witnesses handled the plates.

Jan 1832

The neighbors of Joseph assert that the Smith family was known for being poor.

Apr 1832

The CT gives dimensions for the stone box.

Jun 1832 - Aug 1832

Joseph describes plates as "plates of gold."

Jun 1832 - Aug 1832

Joseph says he was tempted by the monetary value of the plates.

Nov 7, 1832

Smith gives dimensions of the plates.


Chase says Joseph told him the plates were 40-60 pounds.

May 1, 1834

Hale says he could heft the weight of the plates in a box.

1835 - 1838

Whitmer affirms truth of the testimony of the 3 and 8 witnesses.

Jun 1835

Cowdery reports Whitmer's testimony of handling the plates.

Nov 9, 1835 - Nov 11, 1835

Joseph calls plates "plates of gold."

Mar 31, 1836

Whitmer testifies of having handled the plates.

Dec 31, 1836

Cowdery reports that Christian Whitmer and Peter Whitmer Jr. maintained their testimonies of the BOM.

Apr 15, 1838

Burnett's letter claims witnesses confessed to not seeing the plates.

Jun 1838

Joseph's 1838 history account of plates and stone box.

Aug 11, 1838

Parrish claims Harris says he only saw plates in vision.

Aug 26, 1838

Sally Bradford Parker recounts Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith bearing testimony of handling the plates.


Corrill recounts Joseph's description of the plates.

Apr 5, 1839

Turley recounts Whitmer saying he handled plates with "supernatural power."

Apr 5, 1839

John Whitmer informs Theodore Turley that the plates was shown to him "by a supernatural power" and that he handled the plates and "there was fine engravings on both sides."

Jun 1839

Joseph describes plates as "gold plates."

Jun 1839 - Jul 1839

Joseph explains why plates were returned to angel: mobs tried to steal them.

Dec 1839

Smith reaffirms his testimony after enduring persecution.


Pratt gives the dimensions of the plates as 7x8x6 inches.

Jun 1840

Pratt gives reports of the plates including the script engraved on them and their dimensions.

Aug 31, 1840

John A. Clark reports how a "gentleman in Palmyra" was informed by Martin Harris that he saw the plates "with the eye of faith."

Jul 3, 1841

Smith reports dimensions of the plates to Murdock.

Aug 31, 1841

Fielding says sister Mary Fielding says her husband Hyrum handled the plates.


Hyde reprints Pratt's description of the plates.


Henry Caswell reports Lucy Mack describing the dimensions of the plates.

Mar 1, 1842

Joseph gives dimensions of the plates and that they had the "appearance" of gold.

Sep 1, 1842

Joseph records David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, and then later, Martin Harris, seeing the plates and the angel Moroni.


Lucy describes dimensions of the plates.

Dec 19, 1843

Campbell mentions that Stowell handled the plates in letter to Joseph.

Aug 1, 1844

Obituary for Samuel Smith; Taylor writes Smith remained a BOM witness until his death.


Appleby reports dimensions of the plates.


Lucy Mack Smith recounts Joseph running with the plates.


Lucy retells experience of the 3 Witnesses.


Lucy recounts experience of the 8 Witnesses.

May 30, 1847

Page reaffirms his testimony; defends BOM.

Oct 21, 1848

Cowdery reaffirms his testimony at council meeting; saw and handled the plates.


Ford claims 8 witnesses were self-deluded; never saw any plates.

Feb 3, 1858

Young reports that Samuel Smith affirms he is one of the BOM witnesses; calls it a revelation and translation.

Aug 1859

Harris says the plates weighed 40-50 pounds.

Aug 1859

Harris says the plates were 7x8 inches.

Aug 1859

Harris says Beaman heard the plates klink.

Aug 1859

Harris tells Tiffany that plates must have been lead or gold.

Aug 20, 1859

Harris affirms his testimony that he handled the plates.


Noble's reminiscence of mob trying to steal the plates.


Pomeroy Tucker reports that Martin Harris had used the phraseology "seeing with the spiritual eyes."


Lapham reports that Smith Sr. gave dimensions of plates at 6x9-10 inches.

Aug 28, 1870

Harris gives the weight of plates as between 40-60 pounds.

Jul 10, 1874

Robert Aveson reports that Martin Harris testified to Edward Stevenson in 1874 of seeing "the plates and the inscriptions thereon."

Feb 18, 1875

Brand reports that Whitmer reaffirmed published testimony.

Apr 12, 1875

Whitmer reaffirms his testimony to Davis.

Jul 1875

Martin Harris is reported to have told Ole A. Jensen that he saw the plates and the angel; voice of God told him that the translation was true.


Smith records Whitmer reaffirming his testimony and those of the other witnesses.

Mar 5, 1876

Whitmer says he never heard any other witnesses recant their testimonies.

Dec 11, 1876

Whitmer reaffirms his printed testimony.

Apr 12, 1877

BM gives dimensions of plates as that of an "ordinary Bible."

Feb 15, 1878

Whitmer affirms testimony of BOM plates in public.

Aug 2, 1878

Myron H. Bond recollects that John Whitmer "saw and handled" the plates.

Aug 14, 1878

Poulson reports John Whitmer's final testimony of the BoM.

Aug 31, 1878

William Sayre notes how Joseph had a reputation for being poor.

Oct 1, 1879

Interview with Emma; says she felt the plates.

Jul 11, 1881

Whitmer gives dimensions of plates as 6x9 inches.


Smith says he lifted the plates; they weighed about 60 pounds.


Tyler recalls Samuel H Smith bearing testimony as a BOM witness.

Jun 8, 1884

Smith says the plates were heavier than wood and stone.

Jun 8, 1884

Smith compared dimensions of plates to a large Bible.

Jun 8, 1884

Smith recounts when JS first brought the plates home.

Jul 1884

Joseph Smith III recounts David Whitmer affirming he saw with his own eyes the plates.

May 13, 1886

Nathan A. Tanner, Jr. reports that David Whitmer told him that he saw the angel place the plates on a table; saw the plates "with his natural eyes."

Jun 7, 1886

Edward Stevenson recounts Martin Harris informing him in 1870 that he told several acquaintances once that his knowledge of the angel and plates "is swallowed up in knowledge."

Apr 1887

David Whitmer affirms his testimony of the angels and plates in a letter to Anthony Metcalf.

Feb 4, 1888

Whitmer describes the plates as being 8x7 inches.

Oct 1888

Jenson says Whitmer says his father Jacob testified of BOM on deathbed.

Dec 26, 1888

George Mantle summarized that Martin Harris testified that Joseph translated by the power of God.

Sep 8, 1892

John H. Gilbert writes that Martin Harris informed him in March 1830 that he saw the plates "with a spiritual eye."

Jan 13, 1894

Smith remembers hefting the plates and judged them to be about 60 pounds.

Oct 2, 1899

Salt Lake Herald-Republican claims Jane Manning James handled the gold plates.


George Edward Anderson reports that John Whitmer was firm in his testimony before his death.

Mar 22, 1908

James Henry Moyle reports that David Whitmer consistently described the spot in the woods where he saw the angel and plates, and that he handled the plates.

Jul 18, 1908

Cummings argues that the plates were no more than 50 pounds.


Roberts responds to criticism that the plates were too heavy.

Oct 29, 1921

George Godfrey, in an affidavit from 1921, reports Martin Harris repeatedly testified of the Book of Mormon and handling the plates.

Jun 1, 1936

Alma L. Jensen recounts meeting with Martin Harris; Harris affirmed that he knew the Book of Mormon to be true and saw with his eyes the angel.

Sep 13, 1938

James Henry Moyle, in an interview, recalls David Whitmer telling him that he had a clear vision and knowledge of the plates and the angel.

May 30, 1943

Martin Harris is recounted as teaching that he did see the plates in the same way his audience could see his hands by William Glen.

Sep 2, 1943

Comfort Elizabeth Godfrey Flinders recounts how Martin Harris informed a group of boys in her father's home that he saw the plates just as plainly "as you see that chopping block."

Jun 30, 1945

Salisbury describes the plates as "very heavy."

Jan 11, 1954

Hancock recalls how Joseph's sisters hid the plates.

Oct 1954

Salisbury describes the plates as "very heavy."

Sep 1966

Putnam makes an argument that the plates were tumbaga and weighed 40-60 pounds.


Smith argues the plates were tumbaga and weighed around 50 pounds.


Article in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies argues that the plates were tumbaga and weighed 60 pounds.

Feb 2006

Butler addresses the weight of the plates.

Jul 2007

Church magazine addresses weight of the plates.

Mar 12, 2011

Murphy reports soldiers run with 60-100 pound packs.


The health requirements for the Philmont trek, affiliated with the BSA.


Church History Topics essay discusses gold plates.

Jan 12, 2021

Peterson describes actor running with replica of the plates.