Boston time capsule reveals coins, papers dating to 1652 – USA TODAY
The nation’s oldest known time capsule, buried 220 years ago by revolutionary heroes Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, was opened in Boston on Tuesday for the first time since the mid-19th century. It revealed a trove of coins, documents, newspapers and memorabilia dating from America’s colonial beginnings to the fragile early days of the United States.
The 10-pound, corroded copper box held two-dozen silver and copper coins from 1652 to 1855; a silver plaque engraved by Revere, who was a silversmith; a copper medal depicting George Washington; five newspapers; the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; “calling” cards; and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records.
“Tonight is a new chapter in a story that began in 1795,” Malcolm Rogers, director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which oversaw the excavation, said before the capsule was opened at 6 p.m. ET.
Staff worked for nearly four hours to loosen the screws of the box, which measured 5½ inches by 7½ by 1½, CNN reported.
“They said it was hermetically sealed, and I think they really meant it,” said Pam Hatchfield, the museum conservationist who had worked several hours last month to chisel the capsule free.
As she pulled objects out, she remarked that the paper was “in amazingly good condition.”
The time capsule, encased in plaster with coins tossed in for good luck, was unearthed Dec. 11 in the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House during work to repair a water leak. It was last opened in 1855 during emergency repairs. The contents were cleaned, new objects were added, and it was placed in a brass container, covered in plaster and reset in the keystone.
The contents were generally known beforehand. The museum had X-rayed the capsule and said the items were described in the 1855 account of the reburying ceremony.
Items will be publicly displayed temporarily before being reburied in the cornerstone, the secretary of the commonwealth said. Officials are considering adding something contemporary for future generations to discover.