Editor's note: The following is an article from the Jan. 26
Coin World Weekly issue that brings together information from
several previous online posts about the Boston time capsule. Click
the links for past online coverage.
A 220-year-old time capsule originally placed in a granite
cornerstone at the Massachusetts State House in Boston was recovered in December and opened in January, revealing contents that
include coins with dates as far back as 1652.
The time capsule was originally placed by a group of statesmen that
included Paul Revere and Gov. Samuel Adams.
The opening of the time capsule, a brass box, was
done Jan. 6 during an evening press conference organized by the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Inside were silver and copper coins with dates that range between 1652
and 1855, a silver plaque thought to be engraved by Revere himself, a
copper medal featuring a depiction of George Washington, newspapers, a
paper impression of the Seal of the Commonwealth, a number of calling
cards, and the title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records.
RELATED: Here are 12 photos from Tuesday's opening of the
Boston time capsule
Michael Comeau, the executive director of the Massachusetts
Archives, said during the press conference, in a statement captured by
Boston’s Fox 25, that the contents of the time capsule teach us about
the past as well as the present. They are symbols of “our collective
memory and shared heritage,” he said.
“I think that’s why we get so excited seeing these things,” Comeau
said, “because it is literally that tangible attachment to all that
happened before us. It’s really kind of exciting.”
The time capsule was originally placed inside the granite block in
1795 by Revere, Adams and Col. William Scollay. It was discovered and
its contents added to during renovations to the building in 1855
before being put back in place. Modern officials were aware of
historic accounts of the capsule, though its existence wasn’t
confirmed until a water infiltration investigation in the summer.
Coins of several eras
Coins found inside included those originally placed in the time
capsule in 1795 and others from the 1855 additions.
According to CNN, which covered the press conference live, coins
inside the capsule include a half cent, half dime, dime and quarter dollar.
A 17th century Pine Tree shilling dated 1652 was also in the group.
COLUMN: Time capsule found in Boston has sparked
numismatic speculation about what's inside
The date on the Pine Tree shilling does not actually give us its
exact age. It’s very likely a bit younger.
The Pine Tree coinage was the last of the three “Tree” coinage
issues of Massachusetts, all of which followed the brief New England
or NE silver coinage of 1652.
The featureless and undated NE coinage of 1652 was replaced first by
Willow Tree coinage, issued from 1653 to 1660 and all dated 1652; then
by the Oak Tree coinage of 1660 to 1667, featuring 1662-dated twopence
and 1652-dated threepence, sixpence and shillings; and finally by the
Pine Tree coinage.
At press time, Coin World was still in the process of obtaining a
full list of the coins the time capsule held. Details will be
published as they become available.
Recovering the capsule
On Dec. 11, 2014, MFA conservator Pam Hatchfield spent seven hours
removing the capsule from the block on Dec. 11. Tools used included
old-fashioned chisels and hammers as well as modern metal probes and a
flexible shaft drill.
SOCIAL: Here are some of the best tweets about the
Revere-era Boston time capsule
An X-ray was performed on the copper container on
Dec. 14, and state records noted what was placed in the time
capsule in 1795 as well as when it first resurfaced and was added to
in 1855. So officials had an idea of what was inside before the Jan. 6 opening.
The MFA says it will at some point display the contents of the time
capsule. However, the current plan is to repack and rebury it at the
State House eventually.
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