The Kinderhook Plates

In April, 1843 a set of six brass plates were discovered buried in an Indian mound near Kinderhook, Illinois. The plates were unearthed by Robert Wiley, a local merchant and amateur naturalist. The plates were connected by an iron ring and, when cleaned, revealed "hieroglyphics." In 1843 the plates were shown to Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader, who supposedly proclaimed them to be authentic relics of an ancient civilization that existed in North America. However, an examination of the plates in 1855 by W.P. Harris exposed the plates as false. The purpose of the fraud may have been to trick Smith and publicly embarrass him.

References: Williams, Stephen. Fantastic Archaeology. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1991: 166-167.