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 back to the years just after the Revolutionary War are any guide.

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

While 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 when construction began in 1795. It 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 Statehouse. The box remained there until it was rediscovered last year 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 context of this particular coin and the association with Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, the 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.

A portion of one of the papers that was visible showed a listing of the arrivals of whalers from various ports to Boston. Conservators didn't try to unfold the papers.

Pam Hatchfield, the head of objects conservation for the museum, removed each item using a slew of tools including her grandfather's dental tool. She said the paper in the box was in "amazingly good condition."

Massachusetts state Secretary William Galvin said he expects the items will be on display at the museum for a period of time. Eventually, he said, 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.

Comeau said the objects in the box are a bridge back in time.

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

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COMMENTS (121)
  • AaliyahG21
    1/21/2015 - 02:10 p.m.

    NATIONAL NEWS: In Boston Massachusetts there was a time capsule that was found, in the time capsule there were many old and valuable remaining, there was 5 tightly folded newspapers, a medal that belonged to George Washington sliver plaque with 12 dozen coins, and there was one coin that had the date 1655. Fingerprints were seen on the sliver plaque , this showed while Paul Revere and Samuel Adams governed at the time. Michael Comeau executive director Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum said that the coins were more than $75,000 dollars.


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

    The pine trees and the ship masts were important in the 1600s because It was made at a time when the colony didn't have royal authority to create its own currency.

  • michael j55
    1/21/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    News: In Massachusetts a box was filled with a bunch of artifacts that date back to 1655. They say it was made in the revolutionary war. The contents were shifted in 1855 it believes to be a copper box. Then the box was found last year during a water filtration project .the oldest coin in the box was dated 1652 ''pine tree schilling''. it was made when the colony didn't have royalty. the coins have an offer of 75,000 dollars. Pam hatch-field said that one of the papers were in amazingly in good condition.



    CTC: They didn't have the boats like we had to this day.

  • ashley e 2
    1/21/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    NEWS: This article is about a time capsule that was found in Massachusetts that contains a coin older than America. This time capsule was dated back to the couple of years after the revolutionary war. Boston currently removed items from the box. They found five tightly folded newspapers, a medal depicting Gorge Washington, a silver plaque and two dozen coins one was dated all they way back to the year 1655. Some coins were corroded, other items that were in the box were in very god condition. Also, you could see some fingerprints on the silver plaque. This time capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the Massachusetts . Statehouse when they began building it in 1795. It was placed there by revolutionary eraluminaries. Which that included Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams. Governor of Massachusetts . at the time. The contents were shifted in 1855 the box was believed to be copper. Then was placed back into the foundation of the statehouse. It remained there until it was rediscovered last year during a water filtration project. The box was actually brass, according to converters. The oldest coin in the box was 1652 " Pine Tree Schilling." This coin is Worth $75,000 but, value can be worth more. The newspapers were folded in a odd way. Pam Hatchfeild said the newspaper was in amazingly good condition. William Galvin state secretary said items will be put in the state museum for a period of time.

    Critical thinking challenge: Why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s?
    I think they were important because the pine trees made the ship masts and the ship masts were used to carry things over seas.

  • Omar A12
    1/21/2015 - 02:12 p.m.

    News: A time capsule was found in Massachusetts and scholars are looking into it. They found five tightly folded newspapers, a medal depicting George Washington, a silver plaque and two dozen coins. One coin dated to 1655. The capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the Massachusetts Statehouse. When construction began in 1795., it was placed there by Revolutionary era luminaries. Those included Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, governors of Massachusetts at the time. Someone else called Pam Hatchfield, the head of objects conservation for the museum, took out each item using a couple of tools including her grandfather's dental tool. She also said to the editors of this article the paper in the box was in "amazingly good condition."
    Critical thinking challenge: Why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s?
    Pine trees were very important in the 1600s because they were used to make ships and you couldn't make mast without the paper from the pine trees. Masts were important for the ships because they were what allowed the ship to move and travel by wind at the time.

  • PaulT.
    1/21/2015 - 02:12 p.m.

    National News. Its amazing that they found this because we probably wouldn't know more about coins and newspapers in the 1600's unless we found this. It's like a "bridge to the past" like Comeau said because coins and newspapers have evolved since the 1600's. Many people like Paul Revere appear on the coin but nowadays we have presidents on our coins and not famous people.

    CTC: Pine trees were important in the 1600's because they made ship masts and ship masts helped boats sail and if people wanted to go to America they had to use ships. They probably also used the ship masts for lookouts in case they found America.

  • abrahamr10
    1/21/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    NATIONAL NEWS: Early residents of Boston valued a box that contained valuable things older than America. Boston removed thing of the box and found a silver plaque,and two dozen coins, and five tightly folded news papers. according to Michael Comeau has seen coins offered up two $75,000 but according to that particular coin the cost could be much higher. The box that contained everything was found during a on-going



    CTC: why were pine trees and ship masts so inpotant in the 1600s. I think they were important because they were an important piece of art.

  • Ethan L123
    1/21/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    news: This article is about a coin that dated all the way back to 1655 and it is also about one of the oldest coin that dated back to 1652. I think that's cool that someone discovered coins that dated all the way back to 1655 and 1652 I would like to see that coin someday and those coins should be in the museum. The oldest coin was dated back to 1652 and it was a pine tree schilling it was made at a time when the colony didn't have royal authority.


    CTC: I think that pine trees and ship masts were important in the 1600s because pine trees were to make ship masts and you needed to use ship masts to make ships sail

  • kevinR75
    1/21/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    NEWS: Early residents in Boston, Massachusetts found a box that looked like it was way back in the 1600 and in side of it there was old news papers, a silver plaque and 2 dozen coins. One of the coins dated back to 1655 and it was in a brass box, placed there by Revolutionary era luminaries. The box they found will be placed in a museum so the people can see it. The people will learn and, like take a look back in time. The box was found when they were building and that is when they desisted too put it on display. The box will be shown at the museum for a little time because they will put it back so that in the future other people will find it.


    CTC:Why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s? They were so important because they are art and important piece of art.

  • david e1
    1/21/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    National News: Boston researchers have found something of a lifetime. They found an time capsule which is very old in the revolutionary time. What they found in it was five folded newspaper's, a medal depicting and twenty four coin`s. One of the coin was make in 1655 and they were going to sell it but they think it should be in a museum. I think they make right choice it put it in a museum.



    CTC: why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s?
    they use pine trees for fire, building's, etc. ship masts were important because it was great.

  • Devinp 73
    1/21/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    National News : The scientists found a time capsule and the oldest item was made in 1652. they found a news paper so old they didn't want to unfold it and mess it up. One coin was dated to 1665 and two dozen other old coins. The coins went in a museum for a wile. They reburied the coins after the coins were in the museum.

    Why were pine trees and ship masts so important in the 1600s?
    trees were so important for ship masts.

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