BOSTON — Officials opened a time capsule in Boston Tuesday, more than 200 years after Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and William Scollay buried it there.
“Tonight is a new chapter in a story that began in 1795,” Malcolm Rogers, director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, said Tuesday before the capsule was opened.
It took more than four hours for officials to loosen the screws on top of a time capsule they were set to open on Tuesday night, said Pam Hatchfield, the museum’s head of objects conservation.
Hatchfield said the tools she was using to remove objects from the time capsule included a porcupine quill, a bamboo tool and her grandfather’s dental tool.
The first items to come out of the capsule were from 1855, as officials who came across it that year added newspapers and coins to its original contents before placing it back in its original spot.
After retreiving the newspapers and coins dated ‘1855,’ Hatchfield uncovered the Revere-era items, which included an extremely valuable 1652 ‘pine tree shilling,’ among other coins, and a silver plate marking the day the box was buried.
“July 4, 1795, the 20th anniversary of America’s independance,” Hatchfield read from the plate. “How cool,” Comeau chimed in.
The box was densely packed, and some of its items were not in as perfect condition as that newspaper. Many coins, for example, had newsprint stuck to them after being pressed into the paper for 219 years.
Hatchfield did not unfold the publications, as paper conservationists will have to later address their condition and whether they could be unfolded. The conservators said two of the papers appeared to be “The Boston Daily” and “The Boston Traveller.”
The 10 pound copper box was discovered during maintenance almost a month ago, and was unearthed by Hatchfield. She spent seven hours chiseling away at the stone that encased it that day, spilling old coins from the stone before the box was freed.
Officials say the copper box replaced the capsules original container— a leather pouch— when it was discovered and reburied in 1855. The coins that fell from the stone during removal are suspected to have been thrown atop the capsule when it was reburied, as an act of good luck.
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