The question of the fate of the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and more particularly, why the plates have only been made available to perhaps fifteen people (8+3+Joseph Jr+Lucy+Emma+the stray extra) in their history, has vexed Mormons, their critics, and observers since 1830. The possible explanations are myriad.
One particularly intriguing explanation was offered by Parley Pratt in 1842.
In response to a Protestant clergyman inquiring critically about the fate of the plates, Pratt proposed:
What does everyone think? Why are the plates absent, and what would happen if the plates were recovered? Does the current state of the Abraham papyri bear at all on this issue? I have my own views about the meaning of the plates and their absence but am more interested in hearing what others have to say.
P[resumably Parley P. Pratt], “To the Editor,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 21 (Sept 1, 1842): 907.