According to Latter Day Saint belief, the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th-century literature, the golden bible) are the source from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the faith. Some witnesses described the plates as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg), gold in color, and composed of thin metallic pages engraved with hieroglyphics on both sides and bound with three D-shaped rings.Smith said that he found the plates on September 22, 1823, on a hill near his home in Manchester, New York, after the angel Moroni directed him to a buried stone box. He said that the angel prevented him from taking the plates but instructed him to return to the same location in a year. He returned to that site every year, but it was not until September 1827 that he recovered the plates on his fourth annual attempt to retrieve them. He returned home with a heavy object wrapped in a frock, which he then put in a box. He allowed others to heft the box but said that the angel had forbidden him to show the plates to anyone until they had been translated from their original "reformed Egyptian" language.
Smith dictated the text of the plates while a scribe wrote down the words which would later become the Book of Mormon. Eyewitnesses to the process said Smith translated the plates, not by looking directly at them, but by looking through a transparent seer stone in the bottom of his hat. Smith published the first edition of the translation in March of 1830 as the Book of Mormon, with a print run of 5,000 copies at a production cost of $3,000 (or 60 cents per book).
Smith eventually obtained testimonies from 11 men who said that they had seen the plates, known as the Book of Mormon witnesses. After the translation was complete, Smith said that he returned the plates to the angel Moroni; thus they could never be examined. Latter Day Saints believe the account of the golden plates as a matter of faith, while critics often assert that either Smith manufactured them himself or that the Book of Mormon witnesses based their testimony on visions rather than physical experience.

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