Mass. time capsule contains coin older than America Museum of Fine Arts Boston Head of Objects Conservation Pam Hatchfield removes a folded 19th century newspaper from the time capsule (AP photos)
Mass. time capsule contains coin older than America
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It was a look back into the past. And a history lesson, too.

Early residents of Boston valued a robust press as much as their history and currency. That is, if the contents of a time capsule dating to just after the Revolutionary War are any guide.

Experts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston recently removed items from the box. They found five tightly folded newspapers and a medal depicting George Washington. They also found a silver plaque and two dozen coins. One coin dated to 1655.

Some of the coins appeared corroded. Other items were in good condition. Fingerprints could be seen on the silver plaque.

The capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the Massachusetts Statehouse. Construction on the building began in 1795. The box was placed there by Revolutionary era luminaries. Those included Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, governor of Massachusetts at the time.

The contents were shifted in 1855 to what was believed to be a copper box. Then they were placed back into the foundation of the Statehouse. The box remained there until it was rediscovered last year. It was found during an ongoing water filtration project at the building. The box was actually brass, according to conservators.

The oldest coin in the box was a 1652 "Pine Tree Schilling." It was made at a time when the colony didn't have royal authority to create its own currency. Pine trees were a valuable commodity at the time. The trees were used as ship masts.

Michael Comeau is executive director of the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum. He said he has seen the coins offered for as much at $75,000. But given the association with Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, the coins value could be much higher.

The newspapers were folded in such a way that the names of the publications weren't always visible. One might have been a copy of the Boston Evening Traveller. It was a newspaper operation that was eventually absorbed into the current Boston Herald.

The museum's experts didn't try to unfold the papers.

Pam Hatchfield is the head of objects conservation for the museum. She said the paper in the box was in "amazingly good condition."

The items will be on display at the museum for a period of time. Eventually, they will again be returned to the foundation to be discovered by a future generation of Bay State residents.

Galvin said he didn't know if modern items might be added to the foundation.

Critical thinking challenge: Why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s?

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COMMENTS (12)
  • miles d9
    1/21/2015 - 05:27 p.m.

    NEWS:Mass. time capsule contains coin older than America
    Michael Comeau the executive director of the massachusetts archives. And he works at a museum. He said that there was coins worth over 75,000 , but the fact that super famous people have dealed with it.


    Critical thinking challenge: Why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s? they were because pine trees can make cabins.

  • JoshL-Kan
    1/22/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

    They were used to make ships for commerce and war and were also used for other resources.

  • gabby10-Bla
    1/22/2015 - 01:43 p.m.

    That is so cool I would love finding a cool treasure that is from the past and is worth a lot of money, but it is not really about the money at least I think so.Also if I were a science I would be way more happy because you will get to do tests one it and have some fun with it with your friends.And you can show off to so many people.

  • JackS-4
    1/23/2015 - 11:18 a.m.

    In bay state of Boston,Massachussets, a "time capsule" was found. This time capsule held Revolutionary war period newspapers and some 17th century ship tokens. The artifacts are to be put on display at a local history museum, but then returned to where they were found, possibly with some modern items and trinkets inside with it

    Many old Revolution-era tokens are found lying around in New England, but this is a pretty cool discovery. Having newspapers found is pretty cool too.

  • makenna-wat
    1/23/2015 - 11:23 a.m.

    Cool I have never seen anything like that in a long time. from sidney

  • KadenJohnson-Hay
    1/26/2015 - 10:44 a.m.

    Pine trees were valuable because it said pine trees were valuable commodity.

  • TraceBramlett-Hay
    1/26/2015 - 10:44 a.m.

    Pine trees are important, because pine trees made ship masts.

  • CharleyAtha-Hay
    1/26/2015 - 10:47 a.m.

    The pine tree is special. It's coins are worth a lot of money.

  • BellaT-Hay
    1/26/2015 - 10:50 a.m.

    pine trees and ship masts were important is because the oldest coin in the box was a 1652 pine tree schilling. the contents were shifted in 1855 to what was believed to be a copper box. that is why pine trees and ship masts are so important in the 1600"s

  • BenHinkle-Hay
    1/26/2015 - 10:53 a.m.

    They were both made out of wood. And if you carve it just would look like a ship mast.

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