Rock in the Hat

Rock in the Hat

The CES Letter mentions a “rock in a hat” many times, alleging a top-level deception by Church leaders because drawings do not portray the historical descriptions accurately.

While many drawings depict Joseph translating the gold plates without a seer stone or Urim and Thummim, some official Church drawings show him wearing the Urim and Thumim. (Click picture to access the article displaying this picture.)

JS and Urim and Thummim

The question emerges whether a picture of Joseph wearing the Urim and Thumim is more problematic than one of him looking at a seers tone in a hat.



After an extended discussion on pages 20–21, the author of The CES Letter refers to the rock in the hat on seven additional pages (23, 44, 71, 76,78, 80, 81) apparently because he finds the artistic discrepancies to be such strong evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud.

There is no evidence of a cover-up or that the drawings used in Church publications were deliberately trying to deceive. A drawing of a man looking at a seer stone in a hat used is not inherently sinister. The artists simply did not have access to the historical details. 

A review of the accounts from those who recalled the translation process reveals that more mention spectacles or Urim and Thummim than a rock in a hat.

Despite the repeated references to these drawings in The CES Letter, it seems that this discussion is of lesser importance, if it has any historical or doctrinal importance at all.