Some scholars have associated the Liahona with the Masonic globes of Enoch, quoting the following from Thomas Smith Web’s The Freemason’s Montor (1818):
They are the noblest instruments for improving the mind, and giving it the most distinct idea of any problem or proposition, as well as enabling it to solve the same. Contemplating these bodies, we are inspired with a due reverence for the Deity and his works, and are induced to encourage the studies of astronomy, geography, navigation, and the arts dependent on them.
With all due respect to these scholars, I am of the opinion that this connection quickly unravels when the quote’s entire context is considered. Unlike the Book of Mormon narrative’s description of the Liahona, there is nothing in Web’s description to suggest that the globes had mechanical “spindles” to “point the way.” Web instead describes the globes in this way:
These globes are two artificial spherical bodies, on the convex surfaces of which are represented the countries, seas, and various parts of the earth, the face of the heavens, the planetary revolutions, and other important particulars. The sphere with the parts of the earth delineated on its surface is called the terrestrial globe, and that with the constellations and other heavenly bodies, the celestial globe.
A compass used for treasure digging!! Is this the answer? Could it be that the Smith family assumed mineral compasses could communicate the will of God, like divining rods could? Had they even heard of mineral compasses? Unfortunately, the advertisement was dated fifty years too late, so I then looked for earlier sources and finally ended my search (of all places!) at an Encyclopedia Britannica (1824) entry under Bletonism—“a faculty of perceiving and indicating subterraneous springs and currents by sensation.” Under this entry the following is found: