"The golden plates, also called the gold plates or the golden bible (an antiquated reference), are described as a set of engraved plates, bound into a book, that Joseph Smith, Jr. said was his source material for the Book of Mormon, a scripture of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith, the founder of that movement, said he obtained the plates on September 22, 1827 on Cumorah hill in Manchester, New York, where they were hidden in a buried box and protected by an angel named Moroni. After dictating a translation and obtaining signed statements by eleven other witnesses, he said he returned the plates to the angel in 1829.
According to the Book of Mormon, the golden plates were engraved by a pre-Columbian prophet-historian, from an early American civilization, named Mormon and his son Moroni (who after death protected the buried plates as the angel Moroni) in about the year 400 AD. These men said they had abridged earlier historical records from other sets of metal plates in a language they called "reformed Egyptian". Part of the plates were said to have been sealed, and thus could not be translated. The golden plates are the most significant of a number of metallic plates important to Latter Day Saint history and theology.
As a youth Joseph Smith, Jr. lived on his parents' farm near Palmyra, New York, a place and time noted for its participation in the Second Great Awakening and a "craze for treasure hunting". Beginning in the early 1820s he was paid to act as a "seer", to use seer stones in (mostly unsuccessful) attempts to locate lost items and buried treasure. Some contemporaries state that he would put the stone in a white stovepipe hat, put his face over the hat to block the light, and then "see" the information in the reflections of the stone. Some say that his favored stone, chocolate-colored and about the size of an egg, was found in a deep well he helped dig for one of his neighbors."
Tell me that isn't nuts - and funny timing!