Very short summary of the topic:
Another good introduction. Two interesting points:
- Joseph could have bought the Kinderhook plates, but chose to not do so (in contrast to buying the Book of Abraham scrolls, mummies, etc).
- Don Bradley recently has shown that a non-member later published an account showing Joseph using the GAEL from the Book of Abraham efforts to “translate a portion” of the Kinderhook Plates
From the Ensign in 1981: Kinderhook Plates Brought to Joseph Smith Appear to be a Hoax.
From BYU STUDIES: Did Joseph Smith Translate the Kinderhook Plates?
Image of front and back of four of the six Kinderhook plates are shown in these facsimiles (rough copies of even earlier published facsimiles), which appeared in 1909 in History of the Church, 5:374–375.
The Kinderhook Plates are a forged set of metal plates that were given to Joseph Smith to translate.
Joseph Smith “translated” a portion of those plates, not by claiming inspiration, but by comparing characters on the plates to those on his “Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language” (GAEL).
Corroborating this is a letter in the New York Herald for May 30th, 1843, from someone who signed as “A Gentile.” Research shows “A Gentile” to be a friendly non-Mormon then living in Nauvoo:
The plates are evidently brass, and are covered on both sides with hieroglyphics. They were brought up and shown to Joseph Smith. He compared them, in my presence, with his Egyptian Alphabet…and they are evidently the same characters. He therefore will be able to decipher them.
We know that Joseph was interested in languages. He studied Greek, Hebrew, and German in a secular manner. Therefore, we can easily believe that he attempted to translate the Kinderhook plates without assuming prophetic powers, which powers consequently remain credible.
Brian Hales responds to claims presented in the most-recent anti-Mormon tract, the CES Letter.
2011 FAIR Conference Presentation by Don Bradley. In this presentation Bradley discusses the Kinderhook Plates and sheds new light on understanding what Joseph Smith meant when he supposedly said to have “translated” a portion of the bogus plates.