Where can I find out what happened to the golden plates when Joseph Smith finished the translation of the Book of Mormon? Is there anything that directly states what happened to them? Thank you,
Jack, from California
The golden plates upon which the Book of Mormon was written have had quite a history, and it is rather well documented. We first learn about them from the visit of the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823. During this visit Moroni told Joseph that the plates and the urim and thummim were buried nearby, and showed him their location. The next day Joseph went to the place, removed a stone that covered the receptacle where they were, and saw both the plates and the urim and thummim, just as they had been described. The plates were retrieved by the Prophet four years later on September 22, 1827.
When the translation was finished the Prophet returned the plates to the Angel Moroni. However, information on the return of the plates is much less precise than what we know about the time that they were received. The exact date that they were returned is apparently not known. However, we read in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism that the plates were returned to the Angel Moroni in 1829. It would have to have been after they were shown to the Three Witnesses in June of that year. Elder Bruce R. McConkie makes the following statement in Mormon Doctrine, p.327,
“The actual translation of the portion we now have as the Book of Mormon did not take place until between April 7 and June 11, 1829. Thereafter the plates were returned to the custody of Moroni. (Jos. Smith 2:27-65).”