Golden Plates Replica
Joseph Smith Jr. described the plates as having the appearance of gold, with each plate being six inches wide by eight inches long. The plates, which had a depth of about six inches, were bound together by three D-shaped rings, similar to a three-ring binder today. There was a top portion of plates that were translated by Joseph Smith and a bottom portion that was sealed shut.
If the gold plates were actually pure gold, their weight would total 200 pounds! Descriptions of the weight of the plates vary from 40-60 pounds, so it is likely the records were a gold alloy, being combined with other metals like copper.
The engravings on the plates were written in reformed Egyptian characters and followed the writing Hebrew writing form. This meant that the characters were written top to bottom, and right to left. Joseph Smith said that the writing for the title page of The Book of Mormon came directly from the last leaf on the left-hand side of the page. Since the plates followed a Hebrew writing style, the binding rings would be on the right side, opposite what we are accustomed.
This replica was manufactured by craftsman Stephen Pratt for the 2005 exhibit celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith at the Museum of Church History and Art. The plates are composed of a metal called electrum, which is a natural alloy of gold and silver. Pratt, along with help from about 30 BYU students and Provo residents used sharp pen-like tools to etch the characters into the metal. The bottom portion of the plates is sealed with a type of resin that could last up to 1,600 years without rotting. This material was used to resemble a description from David Whitmer that reported the sealed portion was "as solid to my view as wood."
Walch, N. (2005, March 7). Golden opportunity. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from Universe: http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/54690