The Notion of Metal Records in Joseph Smith's Day

For six weeks in the summer of 2011, researchers convened at the Maxwell Institute to discuss the topic “The Cultural History of the Gold Plates.” The seminar was sponsored by the Mormon Scholars Foundation, hosted by the Maxwell Institute, and directed by Richard Bushman.The Summer Seminar Working Papers 2011 were presented at a BYU symposium on August 18, 2011. Working papers are unpublished, unedited, unpolished drafts. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Maxwell Institute or BYU.

 

Had you been ploughing, or digging a well or cellar, and accidently dug up a record containing some account of the ancient history of this continent… had this record nothing to do with God, or angels, or inspiration, it would have been hailed by all the learned of America and Europe, as one of the greatest and most important discoveries of modern times.1

These words come from Apostle Parley P. Pratt‘s book, “A Voice of Warning,” first published in 1837. Although Pratt may have oversimplified the reasons for disbelief among skeptics, his remarks raise an interesting question — a question that I have chosen to write on and explore with you here today: Was the mere notion of ancient metal records uncontroversial or preposterous in Joseph Smith‘s day?

According to Pratt‘s quote, he seems to suggest that there was no real controversy in the plates being metal. Granted, we know that some skeptics rejected Joseph Smith‘s “Golden Bible” reports, partly because they associated the claim with his previous treasure seeking activities. Moreover, critics were all the more skeptical since Joseph Smith refused to publically display the plates. But rejecting Smith‘s claim for having gold plates is not the same as denying the ancient practice of inscribing metal records. Few skeptics actually contended against the Gold Plates report on ancient metallurgical and archeological grounds, and those who did did so for fairly specific reasons.

  • LaRoy Sunderland (in 1838) denied that Jews engraved their records on plates of brass.2
  • John Hyde Jr. (in 1857) contended that after the reign of Zedekiah Jews mainly wrote on rolls of parchment or papyrus (rather than plates of gold or brass). Incidentally, Hyde conceded that metal records were inscribed elsewhere in antiquity, and even cites Hesiod‘s leaden tablets. 3
  • Reverend M.T. Lamb (in 1887) merely claimed that “No such records” as are found in the Book of Mormon was ever “engraved on gold plates or any other plates, in the early ages.”4
  • Stuart Martin (in 1920) claimed that, unbeknownst to young Joseph, gold records would have most likely corroded after being buried for so long. 5

Of these sources, and others I have read, none sweepingly denied the existence of ancient metal records, and only one source was even contemporaneous with Joseph Smith: LaRoy Sunderland, 1838. Does this apparent scarcity suggest that the notion of metal records in Joseph‘s day was not so preposterous after all, and that Parley P. Pratt‘s insinuation to this effect was therefore correct? I think it does. Fortunately, however,my conclusion does not merely follow from negative premises. There is much more positive evidence that I (and others) have gathered to settle the matter.

My research builds upon the work of secular scholars like Brent Metcalfe and Dan Vogel, who have both effectively shown that the idea of metal records was available (if not commonly accepted) in Joseph Smith‘s day. Perhaps I should clarify here that although some may interpret arguments of Metcalfe and Vogel as attempts to prove the Book of Mormon a hoax, this is not what I intend to do today. My desire is simply to show how metal records fit the expectations and understandings of Joseph Smith‘s contemporaries. With that said, I now quote Brent Metcalfe.

Translated into English… Jahn’s Biblical Archeology was published in Andover Massachusetts, in 1823, five years before Smith began dictating the Book of Mormon. According to Jahn, “Tables of brass” were preferred by ancient scribes “for those inscriptions, which were designed to last the longest”…. The manner in which these ancient tablets were joined, Jahn continued, was “by rings at the back, through which a rod was passed to carry them by”…. Whether Smith knew of Jahn‘s publication, the idea that ancients inscribed on metal plates was available in Smith‘s culture. 6

Dan Vogel cites several other examples in his book, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, including one reported by Claudius Buchanan. Dan Vogel explains “that the Jews of Cochin, India, who Buchanan believed were remnants of the lost ten tribes, kept a history of their journey to those parts on ‘plates of brass‘.” An American edition of this report was later published in Boston, 1811. In 1775, an Indian trader named James Adair described

two brass plates and five copper plates found with [a certain tribe of] Indians [in] North America. According to Adair, an Indian informant said “he was told by his forefathers that those plates were given to them by the man we call God; that there had been many more of other shapes, …some had writing upon them which were buried with particular men.”

Vogel explains further,

Orsamus Turner reported that in 1809 a New York farmer ploughed up an “Ancient Record, or Tablet.” This plate, according to Turner, was made of copper and “had engraved upon one side of it … what would appear to have been some record, or as we may well imagine some brief code of laws.” The Philadelphia Port Folio reported in 1816 that “thin plates of copper rolled up” were discovered in one mound. In 1823 John Haywood described “human bones of large size” and “two or three plates of brass, with characters inscribed resembling letters” found in one West Virginia mound. 7

In the light of examples like these, some may wonder whether the ancient practice of inscribing metal records was known to the Smith family and their associates. Was this sort of information limited to highly educated specialists, or is it likely that poor under-educated farm-folk also knew of it? Contrary to what one may suppose, knowledge about the ancient practice was widely dispersed, being mentioned in various sources including newspapers, 8 magazines, 9 novels,10 pamphlets,11 encyclopedias,12 dictionaries,13 religious periodicals,14 biblical commentaries,15 school textbooks,16 etc. 17 One school textbook titled “Systematic Education,” for example, was intended for the instruction of those ―who are between sixteen and twenty-five years of age.18 This textbook was published in London in 1815 (with 2nd and 3rd editions published in1817 and 1822), and was advertised and sold in several states including New York,19 Pennsylvania,20 and Massachusetts.21 Inside we read, “Writing was first exhibited on pillars and tables of stone, afterwards upon metals: as it became practiced more extensively, the leaves of bark of trees were used in some countries; and in others, tablets of wood, covered with a thin coat of soft wax, on which the impression was made with a stylus of iron” 22 We further read that after “uninscribed monuments, the next step to the perpetuating of the remembrance of remarkable events would be registering them in monumental inscriptions, andon tables of brass, stone, or other durable materials, exposed to public view” 23 Other schooltextbooks published in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York mention the ancients inscribing metal records.

A bimonthly religious periodical intended for the instruction of an even younger audience was The Juvenile Miscellany, published in Boston. In the July 1828 issue we read a conversation between a curious young boy named Jamesand his Aunt. James asks, “I wonder how the Bible, and the poems of Homer have been preserved, when they were written long before paper and printing were invented.” James‘aunt responds, “The ancients appear to have been very anxious, to communicate their ideas to future generations; and they tried many ingenious ways to effect it, before paper was known. A very ancient method, was that of spreading wax on wood made into thin boards, and writing on them with some sharp-pointed tool; these boards were strung together, so as to make something like books. At other times, thin sheets of lead, or ivory, the bark of trees, and spade bones were made for the same purpose.” 24 Obviously, publication like this were not intended for an audience of highly educated specialists.25

Newspapers also contributed to the wide dispersal of information about ancient inscriptions. In The Philadelphia Repository, for example, we find an article titled “On the Origin of Letters” asking, “What materials [did] men first ma[ke] trial of writing upon”? The author answers: “The most obvious materials that would naturally present themselves to the minds of the inventors of letters, seem to be stone, wood, and metals; and while writing was only hieroglyphic, or symbolic, those materials might answer the purpose…. [Pausaniustells us about] Epi[s]tles dug up out of the earth, a brass vessel, or urn… in which there was a fine plate of lead, or tin, rolled up in the form of a book, on which were written the rites and ceremonies of the great goddess; and a stone chest, containing the acts of the Council of Illiberus… was found at Grenada in Spain, not many years ago, written or engraved on plates of lead, in Gothic characters, which have since been translated into Spanish”. 26 may also be a source worthy of our attention. This dictionary mentions more than once the ancient practice of inscribing metal records. Under the entry ―book‖ we read,

26James Wood‘s A Dictionary of the Holy Bible may also be a source worthy of our attention. This dictionary mentions more than once the ancient practice of inscribing metal records. Under the entry “book” we read, “Plates of lead and copper, the barks of trees, bricks, stone and wood, were the first matter employed to such things and monuments upon as men were willing to have transmitted to posterity…. Hesiod‘s works were at first written upon tables of lead, which were first in the temple of the muses in Boaetia.” 27 In the dictionary under “Lead is written, “It seems, that as early as the age of Job, it was used in engraving.”28 Moreover, under “Style, an instrument to write with,” we read, “They also wrote on lead with a bodkin or style, Job xix. 24. and with the point of a diamond….” Finally, under “table” the dictionary says, “Table, (L) A broad piece of stone, brass, or the like…. Such the ancients used to wrifte upon, as they had no paper; and they wished what they wrote to continue recorded to many generations. Twice God wrote his law on tables of stone. The Romans wrote their ancients laws on 12 tables of brass.”29

o diffuse that knowledge, and to explain those subjects, with which it is the indispensable duty of every individual to be acquainted.”30

Is there any evidence that the Smith family or their associates had access to a Bible dictionarylike James Wood‘s I have quoted? Yes, there is. A “Dictionary of the Holy Bible” is mentioned on a list of several books the Prophet donated to the Nauvoo Library in 1844. No author‘s name is recorded, however. Joseph Smith‘s donateddictionarycould have been authored by James Wood. But it may also be that this was John Brown‘s Bible dictionary, whichwent through several editions since 1768, being published in Edinburgh Scotland, and later published in Albany N.Y. in 1816. We know Brown‘s Bible dictionary was owned by Seymour Scovell, as Scovell‘sname appears in the Albany edition‘s list of subscribers (p. 5). Seymour Scovell owned astore that young Joseph Smith frequented and even worked for. According to Orsamus Turner, who knew youngJoseph Smith,

[Joseph] used to come into the village of Palmyra with little jags of wood, from his backwoods home; sometimes patronizing a village grocery too freely; sometimes [finding]odd job[s]to do about the store of Seymour Scovell.31

A couple of the entries previously readfrom James Wood‘s volume are almost word for word the same as what is found in John Brown‘s bible dictionary published decades previously. Incidentally, it was not uncommon for 18th and early 19th century authors to plagiarize one another. Under the entry of “Book” we read, “Moses‘s books are called, the book of the law; and a copy of Deuteronomy, if not the whole of them, was laid up in some repository of the ark…. Anciently men used to write upon tablets of stone, lead, copper, wood, wax, bark or leaves of trees.”32 Under “Lead,” Brown‘s dictionary says, “It seems that as early as the age of Job, it was used in engraving….”33 And under ―Table,‖ is written, ―A broad piece of stone, brass or the like…. Such the ancients used to write upon, as they had no paper, and they wished what they wrote to continue recorded to many generations…. The Romans wrote their ancient law on 12 tables of brass.”34

William Gurney‘s The Diamond Pocket Dictionary of the Holy Biblei> published in London 1829,also has metal record entries that are almost identical with Brown‘s and James‘ bible dictionaries.35 The same for Augustin Calmet‘s Great Dictionary of the Holy Biblei> (South Carolina, 1812).36 Granted, Calmet‘s dictionary did not include entries under lead, table, or style… but under “Book,” the wording is essentially the same as James Wood‘s and John Brown‘s.37 Although we cannot be sure who the author was of the “Dictionary of the Holy Bible” that Joseph Smith donated to the Nauvoo library, one thing is certain: many (if not most) of the popular Bible Dictionaries available to Joseph Smith and his associates would have mentioned ancient Metal records.”

The fourth edition of Thomas Hartwell Horne‘s An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, is a four volume work that was also owned by Joseph Smith. In the Community of Christ archives, volumes 2-4 show Joseph‘s signature with the year 1834 next to it.38 What this year identifies I cannot be certain. It probably indicates the year that Joseph purchased the volumes, but it may also mean something else entirely—such as when he may have finished reading the book, or donated it somewhere. In any event, these volumes were published in 1825 in Philadelphia, years before the Gold Plates were received, and well within the environment of Joseph Smith and his associates. This collection explains, “In Job xix. 24. And in Jer. xvii. 1. There is mention made of pens of iron, with which they probably made the letters, when they engraved on lead, stone, or other hard substances.”39 Commentary says elsewhere, “The eminent antiquary, Montfaucon, informs us that in 1699 he bought at Rome a book wholly composed of lead, about four inches in length, by three inches in width, and containing Egyptian Gnostic figures and unintelligible writing. Not only the two pieces which formed the cover, but also all the leaves (six in number), the stick inserted into the rings which held the leaves together, the hinges, and the nails, were all of lead, without exception…. It is not known what has become of this curious article.” 40 Elsewhere we read, “Those books which were inscribed on tablets of wood, lead, brass, or ivory, were connected together by rings at the back, through which a rod was passed to carry them by.”41

Thomas Horne was also the author of An Introduction to the Study of Bibliography, in

which he reports several details related to ancient metal records,

The use of lead, for preserving documents, was not unknown to the antients. In the book

of Job (C. XIX. V. 24,) the patriarch expresses an ardent wish that his words were

engraven on lead or on a rock. The works and Days of Hesiod are said to have been

inscribed on a leaden table, carefully preserved in the Temple of the Muses; which, when

shewn to Pausanias, was almost entirely corroded through age. History indeed records

that tablets of lead and copper have been indifferently employed for preserving treaties,

laws, and alliances. Some writers have asserted, that leaden paper… was formerly used;

but it is most probable, that such paper, if it ever existed, was nothing else than thin plates

of lead, reduced to a very great degree of tenuity by the mallet. Montfaucon assures us

that, in the year 1699, he purchased at Rome a book consisting entirely of lead, about

four inches long, and three inches wide. Not only the two pieces which formed the cover,

but also all the leaves (six in number,) together with the stick inserted through the rings

which held the leaves together, as well as the hinges and nails, were entirely composed of

lead. This volume contained Egyptian Gnostic figures, and other unintelligible writing: it

is not known what has since become of this curious article…. The use of brass among the

Romans, for preserving their public memorials, is established by various authorities…. It

is certain that the Laws of the Twelve Tables were engraven on brass…. Brass was in like manner used in the East, as we learn from the first Book of Maccabees, and the Syrian

Churches, recently discovered in Malayala by the Rev. Dr. Buchanan, are in possession

of six antient tablets, containing grants of privileges made to their ancestors: they are

composed of a mixed metal: the engraved page on the largest plate is thirteen inches in

length, about four in breadth. They are closely written, four of them on both sides of the

plate, making in all eleven pages…. The grant on this plate appears to be witnessed by

four Jews of rank, whose names are distinctly written in an old Hebrew character,

resembling the Palmyrene Alphabet. The Jews of Cochin are in possession of two similar

tablets, containing privileges granted at a remote period.”42

  • engraved on softer metals (gold, silver, brass, copper, lead)
  • with paper thin pages43
  • closely written characters
  • engraved on both sides of plates
  • Egyptian Gnostic figures, hieroglyphics, and unintelligible writing
  • sealed records
  • bound together by rings
  • rod passed through the rings to carry them by44
  • records containing inscriptions that were filled with dark substance tomake characters more legible45

 

 

 

If I were to list and quote from all the sources I found in my research, predating the

publication of the Book of Mormon, I would be standing up here for a very VERY long time…

so I will spare you the torture, encourage those interested to be patient and read my

documentation when it is available, and reiterate my previous assertion: The ancient practice of

inscribing metal records was mentioned in countless sources including newspapers, magazines,

novels, encyclopedias, dictionaries, religious periodicals, biblical commentaries, school

textbooks, etc. What I have cited here is just the tip of the iceberg. You may remember that I

did not quote from any of encyclopedias yet. If I did, we could go through at least nine different

collections I have found. Suffice it to say, sources published prior to 1828 not only mention

metal records, but also records

    • engraved on softer metals (gold, silver, brass, copper, lead)
    • with paper thin pagesa href=”#_edn43″ name=”_ednref43″>43
    • closely written characters
    • engraved on both sides of plates
    • Egyptian Gnostic figures, hieroglyphics, and unintelligible writing
    • sealed records
    • bound together by rings
    • rod passed through the rings to carry them by44
    • records containing inscriptions that were filled with dark substance tomake characters more legiblea href=”#_edn45″ name=”_ednref45″>45
      • engraved on softer metals (gold, silver, brass, copper, lead)
      • with paper thin pagesa href=”#_edn43″ name=”_ednref43″>43
      • closely written characters
      • engraved on both sides of plates
      • Egyptian Gnostic figures, hieroglyphics, and unintelligible writing
      • sealed records
      • bound together by rings
      • rod passed through the rings to carry them by44
      • records containing inscriptions that were filled with dark substance tomake characters more legiblea href=”#_edn45″ name=”_ednref45″>45
      • buried records
      • in stone boxes
      • deposited in sacred hills/mountains/caves
      • obtained through the assistance of spiritual beings46
      • and signed by witnesses

Joseph‘s contemporaries had available many of these sorts of details, but it is interesting

to note that they also misread sources in ways that would better correlate with Joseph Smith‘s

plates. WW Phelps writes in the Morning Star, January of 1833:

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.47

It is true that gold plates were indeed inscribed in antiquity, however, WW Phelps erroneously

cites Jahn‘s Biblical Archeology to support this fact. This volume reports that records were at

times written “in gold,” but with this phrase Jahn actually means “in gold ink,” not “on gold

plates.” This misreading was thereafter perpetuated, appearing in the Western Standard and

Millennial Star in May 1857,48 the Millennial Star in 1858,49 and the Journal of Discourses in

1859.50

Misreading of “in gold” as “on gold” would have been an easy mistake to make,

especially for those who had been entrenched in Masonic lore where a gold plate is described,

being deposited in “the bowels of the earth” and “upon which were some characters which

[Enoch] received a strict injunction never to pronounce.”

51

W.W. Phelps, who first published

the misreading of the phrase “in gold” as “on gold,” was an ex-mason.

Many of Joseph Smith‘s friends, and a few of his family members, were masons. And

not only masons… but as treasure seekers, one could even call the Smith‘s and some of their

associates amateur archeologists. Being a masonic and treasure digging family, the Smith‘s

would have had great interest in ancient history and archeological discoveries, and would have

additionally associated with others who shared these interests. The Smith‘s and their associates

lived in an environment more privileged to historical and archeological information that other

poor under-educated farm-folk might have otherwise been ignorant of. In closing I remind you

of the reports that some of Joseph‘s treasure seeking partners desperately tried to take the gold

plates. Would they have done so if they believe the notion of ancient metal records was

preposterous? Of course not. This and other evidence I have gathered compels us to conclude

that notion of metal records in Joseph Smith‘s day was commonly accepted and rarely contested.

Parley P. Pratt‘s insinuation to the effect was therefore correct.

1. Parley P. Pratt, A Voice of Warning (New York, 1837), 129-30.

2. Mormonism Exposed and Refuted (New York City, 1838), 46.

3. Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs (New York, 1857), 217-20.

4. The Golden Bible, or, The Book of Mormon, Is it from God? (New York, 1887), 11.

5. The Mystery of Mormonism (New York: Dutton, 1920), 27. In addition to these sources listed above, FARMS affiliates have tried to substantiate the claim (that the notion of metal records was preposterous in Joseph Smith‘s day) with another much later source: In 1963, Anthony A Hoekema contended, writing “entire book” on metal “plate” was not “common” in the “sixth century B.C.” He then, however, acknowledged the existence of other metal records, such as the “copper scroll” of Qumran, and a “bronze blade” found at “Byblos” from the eleventh century B.C. Mormonism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1963), 89-90.

6. Brent Lee Metcalfe, “Apologetic and Critical Assumptions about Book of Mormon Historicity,” Dialogue vol. 26 no. 3 (Fall 1993), 157.

7. Dan Vogel, Indian Origins of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Signature, 1986), chapter 1, http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=3405 (accessed 3 July 2011).

8. [Egyptian] hieroglyphics are known to have been intermixed with abbreviated symbols, and arbi trary marks; whence, at last, they caught the idea of contriving marks, not for things merely, but for sounds…. Most probably, Moses carried with him the Egyptian letters into the land of Canaan; and there being adopted by the Phoenicians, who inhabited part of that country, were transmitted into Greece. Writing was long a kind of engraving. —Pillars and tables of stone were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards plates of the softer metals, such as lead.” Blair, “Writing,” The Pittsfield Sun (Pittsfield, Mass), 24 December 1829. “The most ancient mode of writing was on cinders, on bricks, and on tables of stone; afterwards on plates of various materials, on ivory, and on similar articles. In the book of Job, mention is made of the custom of writing on stone, and on sheets of lead.” D’ Israel I, “Origin of the Materials of Writing,” City Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina), 25 May 1807. “Similar practices were afterwards adopted by other nations; and hard substances, such as stones and metals, were generally made use of for edicts, and matters of public notoriety: hence the celebrated Laws of the Twelve Tables among the Romans, were so called from being written or engraved on twelve slabs, or tablets of brass, or ivory, or oak; and hung up for public inspection. The laws penal, civil, and ceremonial, among the Greeks, were engraven on triangular tables of brass, which were called Cyrbes. Tritheunus asserts, that the public monuments of France were anciently inscribed on silver. The Rev. Dr. Claudius Buchanan, in 1807, found the Jews in India in possession of several tablets of brass, containing grants of privileges made to their ancestors…. [V]arious notices may be found of ancient grants, and inscriptions upon tablets or plates of brass: Gibbon also (Decline and Fall of the Rom. Emp. Vol. VIII. Ch. xliv. pp. 5, 6.) remarks, that in the year 1444, seven or eight tables of brass were dug up between Cortona and Gubio; part of them inscribed with the Etruscan character; the rest representing the primitive state of the Pelasgic letters and language. And Captain Percival relates, that when Raja Singa, king of Candy, sent an embassy to the Dutch governor of Pulicat in 1636, the letter with which the embassador was charged, was written in Arabic, on tablets of gold.” “Review of New Books,” The London Literary Gazette, 17 November 1821, 721-22.

9. “In the book of Job, mention is made of the custom of writing on stone, and on sheets of lead.” “Original Mode of Writing,” Boston Weekly Magazine vol 3 no 15 (2 February 1805), 59. “In digging among the ruins of an antient temple, discovered some time ago in that quarter of the city of Granada in Spain, called Albaycin, several stones and plates of lead were found, with inscriptions, importing, that the original acts of the council held, anno 304 at Illiberis or Elvira, were deposited near that place. Upon which they continued digging, and on the 14th of last month, to their great satisfaction, found, in a neat stone chest, which shut very close, the acts they fought for. They are written, or rather engraved, on several plates of lead, in Gothic characters, and signed Peter, priest and secretary to the council of Illiberis, and are actually translated into Spanish.” The Gentleman’s Magazine vol 27 (July 1757, London), 300. The same was published in The Scots Magazine vol 19 (Edinburgh, July 1757), 370. “It is not difficult to prove that the Egyptians buried books of lead with their deceased friends…. In Montfaucon’s Antiq. Expliq. Vol. II. p. 378, he describes ‘a small book entirely of lead, which he bought at Rome, in 1699, and afterwards presented to the Cardinal de Bouillon. Not only the two plates which form the covering, but the six leaves, the ring, the pin which fastens them together, the bands, the nails, were all of lead.’ —It is filled with Gnostic figures and writing;—clearly Egyptian. The learned author adds, ‘Father Bonanni in his Museum Kirkerianum has given the figure of a similar book found in an ancient tomb. The covering, says he, with the seven leaves of which the book is composed, are of lead: in each leaf there are letters engraved… some Greek, others Hebrew, others Hetruscan or Latin. They are unintelligible, as are the figures which accompany them. [They are Egyptian Gnostic figures; like the former.] Father Bonanni cites a passage from Tacitus, in which mention is made of similar tablets of lead.’ These books are so full to our purpose, that we waive all reference to the testimony of Pausanias; who mentions the ‘Works of Days’ of Hesiod as written on plates of lead; and also, to the testimony of Suetonius, who in his life of Nero calls this sort of plates chartam plumbeam leaden paper.” “Mr. Good’s Translation of the Book of Job,” The Literary Panorama vol 12 (London, 1813), December 1812, 951-53. “The old Purtuguese historians relate, that soon after the arrival of their countrymen in India, about 300 years ago, the Syrian archbishop of Angamalee, by name Mar Jacob, deposited in the Fort of Cochin, for safe custody, certain Tablets of Brass, on which were engraved rights of nobility and other privileges, granted to the Christians by a Prince of a former age; and that while these tablets were under the charge of the Portuguese, they had been unaccountably lost, and had never after been heard of. The loss of the tablets was deeply regretted by the Christians…. It is farther recorded by the same historians, that besides the documents deposited with the Portuguese, the Christians possessed three other tablets, containing antient grants, which they kept in their own custody…. Since that period little has been heard of the tablets. Though they are often referred to in the Syrian writings, the translation itself has been lost…. The learned world will be gratified to know, that all these antient tablets, not only the three last mentioned exhibited in 1599, but those also (as is supposed) delivered by the Syrian archbishop to the Portuguese on their arrival in India, which are the most antient, have been recently recovered by the exertions of Liet. Col. Macaulay… and are now officially deposited with that officer. The plates are six in number. They are composed of a mixed metal. The engraved page of the largest plate is thirteen inches long, by four broad. They are closely written, four of them on both sides of the plate, making in all seven pages. On the plate reputed to be the oldest, there is writing perspicuously engraved in nail-headed or triangular headed letters, resembling the Persopolitan or Babylonish. On the same plate there is writing in another character, which has no affinity with any existing character in Hindostan. The grant on this plate appears to be witnessed by four Jews of rank; whose names are distinctly written in an old Hebrew character resembling the alphabet called the Palmyrene; and to each name is prefixed the title of ‘Magen,’ that is, Chief…. The Jews of Cochin indeed contest the palm of antiquity and of preservation; for they also produce tablets containing privileges granted at a remote period. The Jews were long in possession of a third plate, which now appears to be the property of the Christians. The Jews commonly shew an antient Hebrew translation of their plates…. When the white Jews of Cochin were questioned respecting the antient copies of their Scriptures, they answered that it had been usual to bury the old copy read in the synagogue, when decayed by time and use. This, however, does not appear to have been the practice of the black Jews, who were the first settlers; for the record chests of their synagogues, old copies of the law have been discovered, some of which are complete, and for the most part legible…. There is one manuscript written in the character resembling the Palmyrene Hebrew on the brass plates. But it is in a decayed state, and the leaves adhere so closely to each other, that it is doubtful whether it will be possible to unfold them and preserve the reading.” “Newly-Discovered Christians in India,” The Gentleman’s Magazine vol 77 part 2 (London, 1807) November 1807, 1060-61. This same material from Dr. Buchanan was published in “Account of the Versions of the Sacred Scriptures, Now Extant among the Syrian Christians in Travancore,” The Literary Panorama vol 3 (London, 1808) October 1807, 161-63; The Christian Observer vol 6 no 10 no 70 (London, 1807), October 1807, 659-61; and The Panoplist, or, Christian’s Armory vol 3 no 11 no 35 (Boston, 1808). Several details of Dr. Buchanan’s finds were reported again years later in Claudius Buchanan and Melvill Horne, Christian Researches in Asia (Boston, 1814), 110-14; and The Christian Observer vol 12 no 11 no 143 (New York, 1814) November 1813, 708-719.

10. At the time of Antonio’s visit [in Granada], the place was an object of much curiosity. In an excavation of these grottoes, several manuscripts had recently been discovered, engraved on plates of lead. They were written in the Arabian language, excepting one, which was in unknown characters. The pope had issued a bull, forbidding anyone, under pain of excommunication, to speak of these manuscripts. The prohibition had only excited the greater curiosity; and many reports were whispered about, that these manuscripts contained treasures of dark and forbidden knowledge.” Washington Irving, Bracebridge Hall; or, The Humorists -The Student of Salamanca (London, 1822—also published in New York, 1822), 253. Although no mention is made of the Sacromonte leaden plates of Granada, Cervantes’ Don Quixote employs the myth of the leaden box and parchment written in Gothic characters, found at the Old Turpian Tower on Granada (see sources in footnotes 11 and 17): “But the author of this history, though he applied himself with the utmost curiosity and diligence to trace the exploits Don Quixote performed in his third sally, could get no account of them, at least from any authentic writings…. Nor should he have learned any thing at all concerning his death, if a lucky accident had not brought him acquainted with an aged physician, who had in his custody a leaden box, found, as he said, under the ruins of an ancient hermitage then rebuilding: in which was found a manuscript of parchment written in Gothic characters, but in Castilian verse, containing many of his exploits… and the burial of Don Quixote himself.” Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, The Life and Exploits of Don Quixote vol 2 (Translated by Charles Jarvis, Exeter, 1828), 260-61.

11. A very detailed description of the Granada parchments/plates/artifacts, their contents, and controversy, was published in a tract titled, “An Account of the Manuscripts and Reliques—Found in the Ruins of Uninhabitable Turpian Tower, in the City of Granada, in the year 1588: And in the Mountain Called Valparayso, Near to that City, in the Year 1595,” Miscellaneous Tracts: In Three Volumes vol 1,edited by Michael Geddes (London, 1730), 345-383, http://books.google.com/books?id=bEMVAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA345 (accessed 10 August 2011).

12. “Several sorts of materials were used formerly in making books. Plates of lead and copper, the barks of trees, bricks, stone, and wood, were the first materials employed to engrave such things upon, as men wished to transmit to posterity…. Hesiod’s works were originally written upon tables of lead, and deposited in the temple of the Muses, in Baeotia.” Thaddeus Mason Harris, The Minor Encyclopedia, or, Cabinet of General Knowledge (Boston, 1803), 1:183. “The materials used by the ancients instead of paper, were of various kinds, as plates of lead and copper, the bark of trees, bricks, stone, wood, &c.” A.M.F. Willich and Thomas Cooper, The Domestic Encyclopedia: or A Dictionary of Facts and Useful Knowledge Chiefly Applicable to Rural & Domestic Economy (Philadelphia, 1821), 1:264. “BOOKS, materials of. Several sorts of materials were used formerly in making books: plates of lead and copper, the bark of trees, bricks, stone, and wood, were the first materials employed to engrave such things upon, as men were willing to have transmitted to posterity…. Hesiod’s works were originally written upon tables of lead, and deposited in the temple of the Muses, in Baeotia….” “STYLE, a word of various significations, originally deduced from a kind of bodkin, wherewith the ancients wrote on plates of lead, or on wax, &c.” American Edition of the British Encyclopedia: or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (Philadelphia, published by Mitchill Amos White, 1819-1821). Book: “Several sorts of materials were used formerly in making books: plates of lead and copper, the barks of trees, bricks, stone, and wood, were the first materials employed to engrave such things upon, as men wished to transmit to posterity…. Hesiod’s works were originally written upon tables of lead, and deposited in the temple of the Muses, in Baeotia….” The New and Complete American Encyclopedia: or, Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences; on an Improved Plan, in seven volumesEncyclopedia Britannica: or Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature (Edinburgh, 1797), 3:363-364; Ibid. (London, 1773), 3:637. Books: “Local circumstances, the progress of the arts, and the relative importance of the record or information to be perpetuated, have suggested the use of a variety of other materials. Among them are mentioned plates of lead and copper, hardened clay, slate, horn, stone, and wood…. Hesiod’s words, it is said, were originally written on tables of lead, and deposited in the temple of the Muses, in Baeotia…. Job, while wearied by indefinite calumny, he wishes his adversary had written a book, is particularly anxious that his early and remarkable testimonies to the doctrine of the resurrection should ‘be graven with an iron pen and lead on the rock for ever,’ as our version expresses it. Pliny (Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. C. 1,) states that writing on lead (plumbulis volumnibus) was of great antiquity, and came in practice next after the writing on barks and leaves of trees: it was used, he adds, particularly ‘in recording public transactions.’” The London Encyclopedia, or, Universal Dictionary of Science, Art, Literature, and Practical Mechanics (London, 1829), 4:305. Paper, Manufacture of: “Various are the materials on which mankind, in different ages and countries, have contrived to write their sentiments; as on stones, bricks, the leaves of herbs and trees, and their rinds or barks; also on tables of wood, wax, and ivory; to which may be added plates of lead, linen rolls, &c.” Encyclopedia Londinensis, or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature (London, 1821), 18:360. “Writing was first exhibited on pillars, and tables of stone; afterwards on lead, and on plates of the softer metals.” John Millard, The New Pocket Cyclopedia: or, Elements of Useful Knowledge (London, 1813), 7. According to the title page, John Millard’s Cyclopedia was “Designed for the higher classes in schools, and for young persons in general.”

13. Under the entry Book: Materials of Books we read, “Several sorts of materials were used formerly in making books: plates of lead and copper, the bark of trees, bricks, stone, and wood, were the first materials employed to engrave such things upon, as men were willing to have transmitted to posterity…. Hesiod’s works were originally written upon tables of lead, and deposited in the temple of the Muses, in Baeotia.” Style, “a kind of bodkin, wherewith the antients wrote on plates of lead, or on wax, &c.” Table: “Laws of the twelve Tables, were the first set of laws of the Romans, thus called either by reason the Romans then wrote with a style on thin wooden tablets covered with wax, or rather, because they were engraven on tables, or plates, of copper, to be exposed in the most noted part of the public forum.” Temple Henry Crocker, Thomas Williams, and Samuel Clark, The Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, In Which the Whole Circle of Human Learning is Explained (London, 1766). Style, “a kind of bodkin, wherewith the antients wrote on plates of lead, or on wax, &c.” Table: “Laws of the twelve Tables, were the first set of laws of the Romans then wrote with style on thin wooden tablets covered with wax, or rather, because they were engraven on tables, or plates of copper, to exposed in the most noted part of the public forum.” A New and Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Comprehending All the Branches of Useful Knowledgevol 4 (London, by the Society of Gentlemen, 1764), 3089, 3145. Paper: “When the art of writing was discovered, stones, bricks, leaves of trees, the exterior and interior bark, plates of lead, wood, wax, ivory, were each and all appropriated.” “TABLET. [from table] In archaiology. Those tablets of stone or metal employed in the most ancient times as matters whereon to write, were by no means all of them portable; and for letters which were to be transported from one place to another, it was necessary to have recourse to another invention. Tablets were introduced made of wood.” James Elmes, A General and Bibliographical Dictionary of the Fine Arts (London, 1826). STYLE, a word of various significations, originally deduced from a kind of bodkin, wherewith the ancients wrote on plates of lead, or on wax, &c.” Alexander Jamieson, A Dictionary of Mechanical Sciences, Arts, and Miscellaneous Knowledge (London, 1829), 2:975.

14. With regard to the materials made use of in the formation of the original composition, hard substances, such as stone, brass, ivory, or oak, were generally used by the ancients for writings of importance.” “Review of Literature,” The Freethinking Christian’s Magazine vol. iv no. 40 (London, April 1814), 183.

15. “What Time the Custom of Writing upon Lead began is uncertain, but `tis probable not ‘till late. The oldest Inscriptions were on Stones, as the Law at Mount Sinai; or on Stone plaistered over, as were those in Gilgal. Lead and Brass, and the like, may be supposed not to have come into use, `till Commerce, and Literature, andpoliter Arts of Life, made Writing more frequent and Necessary. That lead was in use in the Agustan Age, appears from Tacitus; and that it continued some little Time after is asserted by other Authors; but how long before that it had been introduced, is not so clear. Pausanias says that He saw in Boetia Hesiod’s [tables] wrote on Lead, but greatly injured by Time. Pausanias lived under the Emperour Adrian, about 117 Years after Christ. So that the Writing might not have been much older than Augustus Caesar; the very Dampness of the Place, where he describes it to have been, contributing not a little to its Decay. `Tis true indeed the Custom of writing upon Lead might have been of more ancient Date in the East, at least for any thing that we know to the Contrary, could we be certain that the Country thereabouts produceth any Lead.” The footnote on page 22 says “Pineda, on this Place of Job, mentions some leaden Books of Ctesiphon and Caecilius Disciples of St. James, found in one of the Hills of Granada A.D. 1595 and wrote with an Iron Style. And Eutycius speaking of the seven Sleepers, as they are commonly called, says the Governour wrote an Account of them in Lead.” George Costard, Some Observations Tending to Illustrate the Book of Job(Oxford, 1747), 21-23. “[A]ccording to the ancient method of writing on plates of metal, waxed tables, etc. to write in such a way that the letters etc. are cut in or engraved upon the material.” Edward Robinson, Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament (Andover Massachusetts, 1825), 130. “The style, for writing on brass and other hard substances, was sometimes tipped with a diamond.” The Pictorial Bible Being the Old and New Testaments vol 1 (London, 1836), 518.

16. Job speaks of writing in lead, but for more familiar and private use it would seem that the park and leaves of trees were used….” Dorothea Lynde Dix (pseud: “A Teacher”), Conversation on Common Things; or, Guide to Knowledge with Questions. For the use of schools and families (3rd edition; Boston, 1820), 31-32. The book’s dedication says, “To you, my young pupils, I dedicate this little volume, with the fervent wish that it may fulfil the purpose for which it is designed, that of informing your minds, and exciting you to seek after that knowledge which will be useful to you through life….” Ibid. This volume was popular enough to have sixteen editions published. Representative Women of New England (Boston: New England Historical Publishing Co., 1904), 423. “The Writing of Antiquity, was a species of engraving. Pillars and tables of stone were first used for this purpose, and afterwards plates of the softer metals, such as lead.” Rensselaer Bentley, The American Instructor; Calculated to Succeed the English, and Other Spelling Books (Troy, New York: E. Platt & Co., 1825), 186. “The writing of antiquity was a species of engraving. Pillars and tables of stone were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards plates of the softer metals, such as lead.” Charles Mead, The School Exercise; Containing A Course of Lessons, in which the Various Branches of Education are Introduced as Subjects for Reading in Schools (Philadelphia, 1823), 26. “Writing was first exhibited on pillars and tables of stone; afterwards on plates of the softer metals.” Hugh Blair and J.L. Blake (Principal of the Young Ladies’ Literary School, at Concord New Hampshire), An Abridgement of Lectures on Rhetoric (3rd edition; Concord, New Hampshire: Hill & Moore, 1822), 57. “In short, the utmost attention has been given to render the Young Man’s Companion every way deserving of public favor, and eminently conductive to the best interests of youth.” “Writing was first exhibited on pillars, and tables of stone; afterwards on lead, and on plates of the softer metals.” L. Murray, The Young Man’s Best Companion, and Book of General Knowledge (London, 1821), vi, 38.

17. Writing was long a kind of engraving. Pillars, and tables of stone, were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards plates of the softer metals, such as lead.”Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (6th American Edition; New York, 1815), 77. “The writing of antiquity was a species of engraving. Pillars, and tables of stone, were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards, plates of the softer metals, such as lead.” Alexander Jamieson, A Grammar of Rhetoric and Polite Literature Comprehending the Principles of Language and Style (4th edition; New Haven, 1826), 34. “Writing was long a kind of engraving. Pillars, and tables of stone, were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards plates of the softer metals, such as lead.” Elegant Extracts: Being a Copious Selection of Instructive, Moral, and Entertaining Passages from the Most Eminent Prose Writers vol ii (Boston 1826), Book IV, p. 151. “Writing was a long kind of engraving. Pillars, and tables of stone, were first employed for this purpose, and afterwards, plates of softer metals, such as lead.” Henry Fielding and William Watson, Selected works of Henry Fielding, Esq. containing, the adventures of Joseph Andrews (Eidenburgh: Doig & Stevenson, 1807), 155. “The most ancient mode of writing was on cinders, on bricks, and on tables of stone; afterwards on plates of various materials, on ivory, and similar articles. In the book of Job, mention is made of the custom of writing on stone, and sheets of lead…. The ancients had parchments of three different colours, white, yellow, and purple. At Romen white parchment was disliked, because it was more subject to be soiled than the others, and dazzled the eye. They generally wrote in letters of gold and silver on purple parchment.” The Polyanthos vol 1 (Bostin: 1806), 253-55. “But to return to the sacred mount: three men went to this mountain with intent to dig in search of a treasure; but not having discovered any thing, after three days fatigue, they were upon the point of abandoning the undertaking, when the principal among them going to the church of our Lady to pray, heard a voice within, which said to him, ‘Sebastian, go not away, but return again to the mountain and continue the dig.’ He communicated this revelation to his associates, who, animated with new courage, continued their search, and at the end of two days found a piece of lead, eighteen inches long, and two inches wide, covered with characters, which after having exercised the patience of antiquarians, were at length decyphered…. The work was continued, and three pieces of the metal were found, of like dimensions, and inscribed with characters similar to those of the first…. A valuable discovery was made in these furnaces or grottos of several Arabian manuscripts, engraved on plates of lead, concealed in hollow stones, closed up by a very hard cement…. There were found twenty-one manuscripts of a round figure and composed of several leaves of lead. They are all written in Arabic, except one, of which the language cannot be discovered, because the characters are unknown; but this is supposed to be Arabic also,and that it will one day be deciphered. The largest of these manuscripts is but seven inches in diameter. The bull of pope Innocent XI. Permits no more to be said of them; for it must be observed, that all the manuscripts were carried to Rome, and his Holiness forbade, under pain of excommunication, all persons from speaking of what had passed at the time of the discovery, until he should have decided what might be said concerning it. But as this decision has not yet been pronounced, the canons or pries ts of the sacred mount, with whom I conversed for a considerable time, communicate their conjectures with much reserve. The reader will undoubtedly be curious to know the titles of the manuscripts. The first is the history of the establishment of the church; the second treats of the essence of God, and is said to have been written by Saint Tesiphon; the subject of the third is the ordination of Saint James, son of the apostle Zebedee; the fourth, is an apology or barangue, written by the same Saint James; the fifth, treats on the preaching of the apostles; and the sixth, of the tears and repentance of the apostle Peter the vicar…. The seventh, contains the life, acts and miracles of our Savior; the eighth, treats of the certifying of the glorious book of Evangelists; the ninth, of the rewards promised to those by whom the certifying of the Evangelists is believed; the tenth, of occult mysteries, though, in fact, I know no mysteries which are not occult. This is the shortest of the manuscripts, and is full of seals and a kind of hieroglyphics. The eleventh, is a relation of the great mysteries seen by Jacob or James on the holy mount. The twelfth, the soliloquy of the Holy Virgin: this is a kind of apocalypse. The thirteenth, a book of maxims concerning the law, and the moral conduct of life, by means of which may be obtained security, and the gift of peace. The fourteenth, the history of the famous seal of Solomon, concerning which the reader may refer to what has been written on it by Kircher. The fifteenth and sixteenth, the treat of Divine Providence. The seventeenth, of the nature of Angels and their power. The eighteenth, has for its title, ‘Of the House of Paradise and of Hell.’ The nineteenth and twentieth, contain the life of the apostle James. The twenty-first is called the Mute; it is hoped that some time it will be made to speak. I could give a long catalogue of these manuscripts, but the bull obliges me to be silent. They were all declared apocryphal, because they were found to contain several expressions from the Alcoran: such as, ‘if one of the virgins who are in paradise should spit but once into the sea, the sweetness of her saliva would be sufficient to sweeten the waters.’Six persons, the most famous for their knowledge of the oriental languages, were appointed to examine these books of lead; they were the celebrated Athanasius, Kircher, and John Jatino, Jusuits; father Pecturano, Anthony de Aguila, father Philip Guadagnolo, and the illustrious Abraham Ecclensis. Louis Maracero was the fiscal or advocate general of this little council. They each made a translation separately; and, after having compared them, chose one which they all signed as the best and most faithful. This occasioned many disputes, because each pretended to the preference. At length, pope Innocent XI. Declared that on report of the arbitrators named, he condemned the twenty-one manuscripts; but, what is astonishing, the relics discovered near these books received the approbation of his Holiness.” Jean-François Bourgoing (baron de), Jean-François Peyron, Modern State of Spain (London, 1808), 190-97.Also published in Ibid., Travels in Spain vol 2 (Dublin, 1790), 292-96. “In a stone chest, discovered in Grenada Spain, the acts of the council of Illiberis, held A.D. 304, were found, and in thorough preservation, they were written or engraved on plates of lead, in Gothic characters.” Richard Joseph Sulivan, A View of Nature, in Letters to a Traveler Among the Alps vol 5 (London, 1794), 166. New Memoirs of Literature vol 6 (1727), 139. “The next Piece is intitled, An historical Account of the Manuscripts and Relicks, that were found in the ruins of an old Tower of the City of Granada in the year 1588, and in a Mountain near that City in the year 1595. In pulling down the Tower, they found in it one half o the Handkercheif, with which the holy Virgin wiped the tears she shed at the Passion of our Savior. They found also a Bone of St. Stephen, the first Martyr. Those Relicks were shut up in a leaden Box, with an attestation written upon a Parchment by a Priest named Patricius, who declared that they had been concealed in that place by the order of St. Cecilius. They found in the Caves of the Mountain a great many Bones and ashes of dead people, and some leaden Plates with Latin Inscriptions upon them, importing that St. Cecilius, St. Hiscius, St. Thesiphon, and many other Saints whose names I omit, had been burnt alive in those Caves, for preaching the Gospel in the second year of Nero’s reign…. The Dominicans, says our Author, exclaimed against those Relicks, because among the Manuscripts that were discovered in the same Mountain, there was a Decree of the Apostles, whereby they declared that the holy Virgin was free from Original Sin, and that whoever should assert the contrary, should be cursed, excommunicated, and damned for ever.” Michel de La Roche, New Memoirs of Literature vol 6 (London, August 1727), 139. “But these materials were soon found to be difficult to write upon, and therefore others, more simple and more convenient, were sought for. Bricks and stones were changed from different kinds of metals, and lead became then the most ancient writing substance. Job mentions, in chapter xix. verse 24, engravings with an iron pen on lead; and Pausanias says, that Hesiod’s Opera et Dies was written on leaden tables. Pliny states, that lead was used for writing, which was rolled up like a cylinder. Hertius wrote to Decius Brutus on leaden tables. In Italy were preserved two documents of Pope Leo III. And Luitbr and, King of the Longobards; and, according to Kircher’s Museum, Table X. many more of such writings on lead are to be found. For example, Montfaucon notices a very ancient book of eight leaden leaves, the first and last was used as a cover, and that it contains numerous mysterious figures of the Basilidians, and words partly Greek, and partly of Etruscan letters. On the back were rings fastened, by means of a small leaden rod, to keep them together. Bronze was afterwards more frequently used than lead, as is certified in the History of the Maccabees, by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Cicero, Livy, Pliny, Seutonius, and Julius Obsequens. Phoenician letters were on the kettle of bronze, devoted by Cadmus to Minerva, who was adored at Lindus, on the Island of Rhodes. But, as the kettle is not only lost, and the copies of the inscription, with those of Cadmisian letters, on several tripod vessels, mentioned by Herodotus, and others, I shall confine myself to those which still exist, of which the most remarkable are the famous Scriptum de Bachanalibus, in the Imperial Library; Trajan’s Tabula Alimentaria; and the helmet, found at Cannae, with Punic letters, described in the Museo Etrusco of Gori, and which is now in the third room of the gallery of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, at Florence. I cannot omit noticing the eight tables of bronze, found in the town of Gubbio, in a subterraneous cabinet, when, in the year 1444, parts of an amphitheatre were removed: on seven tables the inscriptions were in the Latin, and one in the Etruscan language Since that time several bronze tables, with Etruscan writing, have been dug up in Tuscany. The seven Latin have been described and engraved on copper plates, by Merula, Gruter, and others, and one by Thomas Demster. The criminal, civil, and ceremonial laws of the Greeks have been engraved on bronze tables, and the speech of Claudius engraved on bronze plates, are yet preserved at the town-hall of Lions, in France. The celebrated statutes or laws on twelve tables, the major part of which the Romans copied from the Grecian code, were first written on tables of oak, but according to others on ten ivory tables, and hung up pro rostris. But, after they had been approved by the people, they were engraved in bronze. But these were melted through fire occasioned by lightning which struck the capitolium, and consumed likewise numerous other laws for the cities and country, which were there deposited; the loss thereof was highly regretted by the Emperor Octavius Agustus. The laws of the Cretans were likewise engraved in bronze; and the Romans etched, in general, their code plebiscita, contracts, conventions, and public records, in brass, not only during the existence of the republic, but likewise under the reign of the Emperors. The magistrates of Athens were chosen by lot; the names of the candidates were written on bronze plates, and put in an urn, with white and black beans, and the person whose name was taken out with a white bean was elected. The pacts between the Romans, Spartans, and the Jews, were written on brass, which method was likewise observed by the guilds and private persons who usually, for security, got the land-marks of their estates engraved on metal; and in many cabinets are yet to be seen the discharges of soldiers written on copper-plates. It is not long since, at Mongleer, in Bengal, a copper-plate was dug up, on which characters of Sanscreet were etched, signifying a gift of land, from Bideram Gunt, to one of his subjects. This bill of feossment, on copper, is dated 100 years before the birth of Christ, and proves at the same time that the Indians were, about two thousand years ago, in a high degree of cultivation. Such genuine documents, written on such hard substances, in more modern times are very scarce.” Matthias Koops, Historical Account of the Substances Which Have Been Used to Describe Events, and Convey Ideas (London, 1800), 19-22. “On the 12th of May we were conducted by Doctor Remena to the Collection of Count Moscardi, renowed for many ancient Monuments. Among them are three Brass tablets, the fourth, which is Marble, bears a Greek Inscription, in an unusual Character….” Bernard De Montfaucon, The Travels of the Learned Father Montfaucon from Paris thro’ Italy (Translated by J. Henley, London, 1712), 452. “These materials were soon exchanged for the more convenient ones of metals, and lead then became the most ancient writing substance. — ‘O that my words were written in a book! And engraved with an iron pen and lead; That they were cut in the rock for ever!’ Pausanias says Hesiod’s Opera et Dies was written on leaden tables; and Pliny affirms that lead was used for writing, rolled up. Montfaucon notices a very ancient book of eight leaden leaves, the first and last formed the cover, and on the back were rings fastened by means of a small leaden rod, to keep them together. Such was the origin of book-binding! —This book contained numerous mystic figures of the Basilidians, in words of partly Greek and partly Etruscan letters. ‘In a stone chest (see Gent. Mag. July, 1757) at Granada, in Spain, was found the Acts of the Council of Illiberis, held A.D. 304, written on plates of lead, in Gothic characters, and they are now translating into Spanish.’ Bronze was afterwards more frequently used than lead. Trajan’s Tabula Alimentaria was engraven on brass, and a helmet found at Cannae, now in the grand duke’s gallery at Florence is inscribed with Punic letters. The criminal, civil and ceremonial laws of the Greeks were engraven on brass tables; and the ancient code of the Romans, called the Twelve Tables, was first written on tables of oak, and hung up over the Rostrum; but after it was approved by the people, it was engraven in brass. The Romans generally etched their contracts and public records in brass, even under the reign of the emperors. Not long since, at Mongheer, in Bengal, a copper plate was dug up, on which was etched in Sanscrit, a deed of gift of land from a rajah of Bengal to one of his subjects. The date showed it to have been made a hundred years before the Christian Era, and proves that the Indians were then in a high state of cultivation.” “When the Lacedemonians and Romans renewed their league with Simon, the High Priest and Defender of the Jews, ‘They wrote unto him in TABLES OF BRASS’— (1st. of Maccabees, XIV C—18 V.) Again— ‘They wrote (his acts) in THE TABLES OF BRASS, which they set upon pillars in Mount Sion.’— (1st. of Maccabees, XIII C—27 V.).” “Of Substances Used for Writing Upon,” The Humming Bird; or, Morsels of Information, on the Subject of Slavery (Leicester, 1825), 47-48.The Jews on the Malabar coast are distinguished into two kinds, white and black. The former, in their synagogue near Cochin, have two oblong square plates of copper, containing old Malabar writing in lines that run across them, and in a mixed dialect of the Malabar, Tamulic, and Lulengic languages.” Paolino Da San Bartolomeo, A Voyage to the East Indies(London, 1800), 108.

18. P. iii.

19. “NEW PUBLICATIONS[,] NEW EDITIONS, & AMUSING BOOKS, RECENTLY imported from London and Liverpool, and for sale by A.T. GOOD RICH & CO., No. 124 Broadway, corner of Cedar- street, opposite of the City Hotel.” The list of books advertised in this New York newspaper includes “Systematic Education or Elementary Instruction in the various departments of Literature and Science, with practical rules studying each branch of useful knowledge, by the Rev. Messrs Shepherd, Joyce, and Carpenter—2vols. 8vo.”New-York Daily Advertiser , 21 September 1818, p. 3. “We would here recommend to teachers and parents the valuable works of Dr. Knox and Dr. Barrow, on education. This may be added a work entitled Systematic Education, by the Rev. W. Shepherd, Rev. J. Joyce, and the Rev. Lant Carpenter.” The Academician (New York), 15 August 1818, p. 130. This book is also advertised in The Plough Boy and Journal of the Board of Agriculture (Albany New York), 17 March 1821, p. 336.

20. Systematic Education, or Elementary Instruction in the various departments of literature and scie nce, with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge. By the Rev. W. Shepherd, the Rev. Lant Carpenter, L. L. D. and the Rev. J. Joyce. In two vols. 8vo. Illustrated with plates by Lowry.” The Analetic Magazine vol. vi (Philadelphia, 1815), 174.

21. “ENGLISH BOOKS.—Just received by Cummings & Hilliard…. Joyce, Shepard and Carpenter’s Systematic Education.Boston Daily Advertiser, 28 August 1821, p. 4. See also Ibid., 16 August 1821, p. 4. “CUMMINGS AND HILLIARD inform their friends, that they have established a correspondence in England, France, and Germany, by which they are enabled to import Books of all descriptions, at an advance of 19 per cent upon the cost and charges. Order for Books, from either of these places, will be executed semi-annually, with punctuality and care. They have now on hand many valuable foreign publications, Theological, Classical, and Miscellaneous.” Among the books “they now have” was “Joyce and Carpenter’s Systematic Education.” “New Works, and Late Editions of Standard Books, published and for sale by Cummings and Hilliard, Boston Bookstore, No. 1 Cornhill,” The Friend of Peace vol. ii no. viii (Cambridge: Hilliard and Metcalf, 1821), pp. 6-7.

22. Systematic Education, or, Elementary instruction in the Various Departments of Literature and Science vol. 1 (London, 1817), 60.

23. Ibid., 250.

24. Paper and Printing, The Juvenile Miscellany, or, Friend of Youth, vol 4 no 3 (Boston, July 1828), 370.

25. “The materials used for writing in the early ages were of great variety—stone, lead, brass, ivory, box, wax, the skins of animals, and the leaves of certain trees and aquatic plants…. The works of Hesiod were written on tablets of lead; the Egyptians engraved their public documents on tablets of brass; the laws of Solon were inscribed on the same metal; and the treaty between Romans and Carthaginians, at the termination of the first Punic war, B.C. 241, was engraven on brazen tables.” My Daughter’s Book, Containing a Selection of Approved Readings (London, 1834), 84-85. This same material was previously published in J. Moyes, Specimens of the Types (London, 1826), page numbers not given, chapter is titled “Origin of Writing.”

26. “On the Origin of Letters,” Philadelphia Repository vol. 2 no. 13 (6 February 1802), 100-101.

27. James Wood, A Dictionary of the Holy Bible vol. 1 (New York, 1813), 195.

28. Ibid., 2: 94.

29. Ibid., 505.

30. Ibid., 1: iv.

31. Rick Grunder, Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source (LaFayette, New York: Rick Grunder –Books, 2008), entry #75.

32. John Brown, A Dictionary of the Holy Bible (Albany N.Y., 1816), 1:107.

33. Ibid., 2:54)

34. Ibid., 2:309.

35. William Gurney, The Diamond Pocket Dictionary of the Holy Bible(London 1829).

36. Augustin Calmet, Great Dictionary of the Holy Bible(Charlestown, 1812).

37. The words “barks” and “brick” being singular instead of plural follows more closely with John Brown‘s reading.

38. Michael Marquardt, “Books Owned by Joseph Smith,” http://www.xmission.com/~research/about/books.htm(accessed25 July 2011).

39. Thomas Hartwell Horne’s An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures(Philadelphia: 1835), 2:182.

40. Ibid., fn 2.

41. Ibid., 183.

42. Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Study of Bibliography vol. 1 (London, 1814), 33-35.

43. Emma Smith reported, “I once felt of the plates as they thus lay on the table, 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.” Quoted in Edward Tullidge, Life of Joseph the

Prophet (Plano Illinois, 1880), 793. “They appeared to be of gold… about as thick as parchment….” David Whitmer

Interview with Kansas City Journal, 1 June 1881, as cited in Early Mormon Documents vol 5 (Salt Lake City:

Signature Books, 2003), 78.

44. Orson Pratt reported, “Upon each side of the leaves of these plates there were fine engravings, which were

stained with a black, hard stain, so as to make the letters more legible and easier to be read. Through the back of

the plates were three rings, which held them together, and through which a rod might easily be passed, serving as

a great convenience for carrying them; the construction and form of the plates being smaller to the gold, brass,

and lead plates of the ancient Jews in Palestine.” Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses (2 January 1859), 7:30.

45. In Orson Pratt’s remarks quoted in fn 44, Pratt also mentions the staining of characters to make them more

legible. “Grey supposes the letters being hollowed in the rock with the iron pen or chisel, were filled up with

melted lead, in order to be more legible….” Thomas Harmer, Observations on Various Passages of Scripture vol 3

(London, 1816), 63. “In their more elegant books, the Birman’s write on sheets of ivory, or on very fine white

palmyra leaves: the ivory is stained black….” Thomas Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Bible vol 3, 457. “On the palmyra leaves the characters are in general of black enamel.” Ibid., 474. The

Literary Gazette vol 5, 722. “To render the characters more legible, the engraved lines are frequently filled by

besmearing the leaf with fresh cow dung. This substance is then tinged black, which makes the writing very plain.

Sometimes this object is obtained by rubbing the lines over with coco-nut oil, or a mixture of oil and charcoal

powder.” The Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts vol 2 (Boston, 1825), 379. Mechanics Magazine vol 2 no

46. (London, 1824), 24 July 1824, 344.

46 “St. Catald lived in the close of the 5th Age [century]. He was born in Munster, educated at Lismore, and

afterwards Bishop of Ratheny. Having for some Years honourably discharged his Episcopal Function, he went a

Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, from thence, in obedience to an Heavenly Vision, he travelled to Italy, where he became

Bishop of Tarentum. Volateran says further, that Catald was esteemed at Geneva near the Lake Leman as Bishop

and Professor of that City. Alexander ab Alexandro, who lived in 1500, writes thus of him, ‘In the flourishing Estate

of Ferdinand the first King of Arragon, when as yet the City and Kingdom of Naples were free from the calamities of

War, it is Recorded, that Catald, a Religious Man, who was Bishop of Tarentum a thousand Years since, and

honoured by the Citizens there, as their Patron, had appeared in a tempestuous Night, to one in his sleep, who

ministered about Holy things, then lately admitted to Orders, and of a virtuous Education, and warned him to

cause a Book containing Divine Mysteries, which in his life time he had writ and hid in some obscure place, to be

dug up, and forthwith to be laid before ht King’s Majesty, but he giving little credit to the Vision, the same was

often repeated to him when awake, and one morning very early, while he continued alone in the Temple but

perfectly awake, Catald appeared to him in his Episcopal Habit and Mitre, and told him that next morning, without

further delay, he should dig it up and carry it to the King, threatening sore punishment if it were not done. The

next Day the Minister and People went in solemn Procession to the place where the Book for so long time had lain

hid, and fount it wrapt up in Leaden Tables, and fastened with Iron Studs….’ The discovery of this Prophecy written

in Leaden Tables, is placed by [Bartholomew] Moron in the year 1492. Dempster, who makes him a Scot of Albany,

ascribes to him, beside the aforesaid Book of Prophecy, a Book of Visions, another of Homolies, and says he lived

in 361.” James Ware, Two Books of the Writers of Ireland, book 1 (Dublin, 1704), 2-3. “But to return to the sacred

mount: three men went to this mountain with intent to dig in search of a treasure; but not having discovered any

thing, after three days fatigue, they were upon the point of abandoning the undertaking, when the principal

among them going to the church of our Lady to pray, heard a voice within, which said to him, ‘Sebastian, go not

away, but return again to the mountain and continue the dig.’ He communicated this revelation to his associates,

who, animated with new courage, continued their search, and at the end of two days found a piece of lead,

eighteen inches long, and two inches wide, covered with characters, which after having exercised the patience of

antiquarians, were at length deciphered.” Jean-François Bourgoing (baron de), Jean-François Peyron, Modern State

of Spain (London, 1808), 190. One of the Sacromonte plates discovered in Granada was titled A History of the

Certainty of the Holy Gospel. A translation of this text describes Angel Gabriel visiting Mary in her home, showing

her “the gospel in question, written by a powerful hand with radiant light on circular tables of precious stones,

whose value God alone has knowledge of.” Mary transcribes the book on “leaden plates, sealed with the seal of

Solomon,” and explains that God had ordered her to “do with *the plates+ as was done with the tables of Moses;

James will bear this copy to an uttermost quarter of the earth, and there he will conceal it in a holy spot where

God shall guard it.” This sacred record would “remain under Gabriel’s protection until the heresies and offences of

the world should need the application of the remedy; that those offences and heresies would be disclosed by the

hand of a holy priest.” God will “raise up a lowly creature… who shall explain the Certainty of the gospel in the

light of the Holy Ghost. When all are satisfied, their law shall become a single law, and error and impiety shall be

banished from the world.” Mary gives the tablets and lead plates to apostle James, saying, “Go with this copy of

the tablets of the Certainty, and with this book, unto the seashore. God shall provide the with a little boat, whose

pilot shall be the angel Gabriel. When ye arrive in Spain… hide the book and tablets where the dead man comes to

life.” James did as instructed, and as soon as he landed on the shores of Spain “and laid the book and tablets

down, the earth began to gape, and from it came a man who said, ‘Why has thou raised me from my tomb, wherein I rested since the time of Moses?” The story ends with James taking these lead documents, records a

history of his own of what had just taken place, and then deposits all of the records in a cave, to wait until the

“great priest” shall arise and find them. Leonard Williams, Granada: Memories, Adventures, Studies and

Impressions (London, 1906), 30-38.

47.

47 W.W. Phelps, “The Book of Mormon,” Evening and Morning Star vol. 1 no. 8 (Jan. 1833): np.

48.

Charles W. Wandell, “Credibility of the Book of Mormon as Compared With that of the Bible,” Millennial Star vol. 19 (2 May 1857), 280.

49.

“More Gold Plates Discovered,” Millennial Star (3 October 1857), 633.

50.

Orson Pratt, “Evidences of the Bible and Book of Mormon Compared,” Journal of Discourses (2 January 1859), 7:24.

51.

The Freemason’s Monitor, New York, 1802, pages 245, 246, 247 and 249.