The range of Hofmann's forging abilities never cease to amaze me: not only the content he was able to produce, but his technical mastery of such a range of media (he forged coins as well as manuscripts).
Hofmann is considered to be one of the most successful forgers in American history.
A master forger, Hofmann deceived a number of renowned document experts during his short career, and an unknown number of his forgeries may still be in circulation. But it is Hofmann's forgeries of Mormon documents that have had the greatest historical significance. In August 1987, the sensationalist aspects of the Hofmann case led Apostle Dallin Oaks to believe that church members had witnessed "some of the most intense LDS Church-bashing since the turn of the century." A student of Mormonism, Jan Shipps, agreed that press reports "contained an astonishing amount of innuendo associating Hofmann's plagiarism with Mormon beginnings. Myriad reports alleged secrecy and cover-up on the part of LDS general authorities, and not a few writers referred to the way in which a culture that rests on a found scripture is particularly vulnerable to the offerings of con-artists.
The number of people Hofmann drew into his fraud, including the Church's First Presidency, is astonishing.
In an interesting twist, the Tanners were the first to publicly announce that Hofmann was a fraud.
It now appears that both Lyn Jacobs and Mark Hofmann conspired to hide the truth concerning the origin of the Salamander letter. If Jacobs had knowledge that the letter was forged, he would be as guilty as Hofmann of "THEFT BY DECEPTION." Mr. Jacobs claims that Hofmann was willing to "share any profits" that came from the sale of the document and that he was involved in its sale to Steven Christensen: "...I met Steve for the first time at Coordinated Financial Services. By that time, the sale contract had already been written and Mark and I signed it along with a few witnesses. It obligated Steve to pay $40,000..." (Sunstone, page 15) Since Jacobs was deeply involved with Hofmann and was a party to an erroneous story concerning the origin of the Salamander letter, some have suggested that he may be a co-conspirator with Mark Hofmann in forgery. We find the following in the interview with Jacobs in Sunstone (page 19):Salt lake City Messebger (1986)
"SUNSTONE: So as far as you know, no one living can claim to have read it [the Salamander letter] before it came from Mark Hofmann's hands. You don't have any first hand knowledge of its actual origins.
"JACOBS: If you're suggesting Mark forged it, it is not possible. Mark Hofmann is not a forger....
"SUNSTONE: Some have suggested that you might be a forger.
"JACOBS: That's ridiculous....To my knowledge, such a thing has never been perpetrated either by Mark or myself....
"SUNSTONE: How do you suppose these questions of forgery arose?
"JACOBS: The reasons for that are difficult for me to ascertain except that people just simply don't like certain documents....It seems to me it's only when a document becomes particularly offensive to people or in any way controversial that people decide it's a forgery. What's the matter with everyone?...
"SUNSTONE: One of the most outspoken proponents of the forgery theory has been the Utah Lighthouse Ministry. One would think that with their anti-Mormon mission, they would not question the Martin Harris letter's authenticity without good reason, especially since it supposedly supports their case against the Church. What do they have to gain?
"JACOBS: I've always wondered that....So often such documents get stashed away; nobody talks about them anymore, and they just sort of fizzle out of public attention. That's really what started happening to the Martin Harris [letter].... Well the anti-Mormons may have wanted to keep the thing going by claiming it to be a forgery.
"The other possibility is that because certain individuals were crying forgery from the beginning, the anti-Mormons may have become apprehensive about using a document in their ministry which might not be authentic. If it were a forgery, it would make them look like fools."
Lyn Jacobs seems to imply that because "certain individuals were crying forgery," we were extremely cautious about endorsing the Harris letter. Actually, the truth of the matter is that we were the first to raise the question. Furthermore, Mr. Jacob's assertion that we wanted to keep the "thing going by claiming it to be a forgery" is absolutely ridiculous. In any case, Sunstone has done a real service for researchers in providing this revealing interview with Jacobs.
interview with Lyn Jacobs:Stalking the wild document