Samuel Adams And Paul Revere’s 1795 Time Capsule Contents Unveiled

Samuel Adams and Paul Revere buried their tiny time capsule in Boston over 200 years ago. Fast forward to January 6, 2015, when officials from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts opened the time capsule, and after an hour of high drama, all of the objects packed tightly in the capsule were removed. Although the box had been opened once before, the objects inside were still of extreme historical importance.

Malcolm Rogers, Director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), was quoted by CNN as having asked, “Could we actually go through the whole box, or would things prove too fragile to take out?” Rogers then compared the process to brain surgery when he said, “It was like brain surgery, with history looking down on us.”

As reported earlier on The Inquisitr, the time capsule buried by Adams and Revere was unearthed back in December and opened last night for the first time in nearly 160 years. The box was last uncovered in 1855, when the contents of the capsule were cleaned and a few objects added. The contents were noted in contemporary reports, and the time capsule was then returned to its resting place until its removal on December 11, 2014.

After having been removed last month, the box was taken to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where it was X-rayed and given a thorough once-over. The items contained within the capsule were removed one item at a time by the museum’s head of objects conservation, Pam Hatchfield.

CNN reported that the capsule contained at least 24 coins, five folded newspapers, a title page from the Massachusetts colony records, a Massachusetts commonwealth seal, and an inscribed rectangular silver plate which Rogers described as “probably made by Paul Revere and engraved by him.” In regards to the silver plate, he referred to it as “the treasure at the end” as it had been the last object Hatchfield removed from the stash.

Removal of the time capsule from the Massachusetts State House back in December took a total of seven hours. An additional four plus hours on Tuesday, prior to the night’s unveiling ceremony, were required by officials to loosen the screws holding the capsule shut.

In order to remove the contents of the 10-pound box, a porcupine quill and a dental tool were used. The dental tool belonged to Hatchfield’s grandfather, and when used along with the quill, the unusual pairing of objects allowed her to safely extract the contents of the box.

The box, which measures 5.5 x 7.5 x 1.5 inches, was first uncovered during repairs for a water leak at the Massachusetts State House when workers investigating a water leak stumbled upon it. The artifact was found inside of a cornerstone located within the vicinity of the leak.

This time capsule dating back to 1795 is the oldest time capsule discovered in the country, ABC News reported.

The box-shaped capsule was placed in the cornerstone at the State House in 1795 by none other than Adams, the renowned brewer and governor of Massachusetts, and a local developer at the time by the name of William Scollay. Revere was responsible for overlaying the dome at the State House with copper.

As far as the copper coins contained within the box are concerned, Hatchfield indicated that they may have helped protect the artifacts as copper helps block the growth of fungus. Among the coins recovered were half-cent, half-dime, one-cent, 10-cent, and 25-cent coins. An additional set of coins included a 1652 pine tree shilling and copper medal depicting George Washington.

An appraiser for the PBS program Antiques Roadshow, Sebastian Clarke, indicated that the value of the items in the time capsule would have “to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” but only if they went up for auction. Which they won’t because they will be placed on display at the museum after the conservation process is completed. Eventually, the objects will be placed back in the time capsule and returned to the cornerstone at the Massachusetts State House, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, William F. Galvin.

As far as adding anything new to the time capsule before returning it, Galvin indicated that they might.

“Will officials add anything new to the time capsule before they put it back? The governor has wisely suggested that we might, so we’ll think about it.”

What do you think should be added to the time capsule?

[Image via Museum of Fine Arts]

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