US Coins

West Point time capsule yields 1800s U.S. coinage

If at first you don’t succeed ...

A second examination Aug. 28 of a nearly 200-year-old time capsule opened on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York yielded a handful of early United States coins. An initial look into the lead capsule noted only silt, which had infiltrated a crack in the capsule.

The artifacts identified by U.S. Military Academy officials are:
➤ 1800 Draped Bust dollar.
➤ 1828 Capped Bust half dollar.
➤ 1818 Capped Bust quarter dollar.
➤ 1827 Capped Bust dime.
➤ 1795 Flowing Hair half dime;
➤ 1827 Matron Head cent.
➤ 1826 Erie Canal completion commemorative medal.

The coins and medal were recovered from within the sediment inside the time capsule, which U.S. Army cadets hid in 1828 inside the base of the Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko monument. The time capsule was discovered during recent renovations to the monument and its base.

Kosciuszko (1746 to 1817), more commonly known as Thaddeus Kosciuszko, was a Polish general, military engineer, and American Revolutionary War figure who fought not only in the American Revolutionary War, but as well during an uprising in his home country. Kosciuszko was recognized for his bravery, kindness, patriotism, likability, and unwavering strength of character.

The Aug. 28 live broadcast of the opening of the one-cubic-foot time capsule by the military academy’s archaeology team headed by archaeologist Paul Hudson, initially revealed just the sediment; a subsequent examination of the time capsule later in the day by Hudson back in his laboratory disclosed what was actually embedded within the sediment on the bottom of the capsule.

“This is an incredible story that involves so many of West Point’s heroes and many of them are the Army’s and our nation’s heroes,” explained Brig. Gen. Shane Reeves, dean of the USMA Academic Board, during the capsule opening. “We should reflect upon and be inspired by our history to pause and realize we have the immense honor and responsibility to continue the legacy that Kosciuszko started, and that West Point continues to live up to his vision from so long ago. There is no better opportunity to take a moment and be inspired by our Army and academy’s connection through time that is represented by that capsule and one of our nation’s true heroes.”

Archaeological experts at the USMA are continuing to sift through the sediment in the time capsule to ensure that no other artifacts are missed.

The historical preservation process will continue, and updates will be provided when new information is available, according to USMA officials. A decision will then be made as to what will be done with the coins and medal.

Images taken of the unveiling of the individual relics are found online at Images of the pieces discovered are illustrated at

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