A time capsule sealed by founding fathers Paul Revere and Samuel Adams some 200 years ago was carefully opened on Tuesday by conservator Pamela Hatchfield and other officials at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
What they found within the 1795 corroded, 10-pound brass box wasn't really a surprise - two dozen coins, five folded newspapers, a seal from the Massachusetts commonwealth, and a title page from the commonwealth's colony records.
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The findings were expected since the capsule had actually already been extracted in 1855. During that opening, the original cowhide capsule was replaced with the brass box and new items, including coins from the 1800s, were added to the stash. The box had then been mortared inside the State House cornerstone.
Nonetheless the painstaking process of removing and opening the capsule was exciting and suspenseful - at least for historians.
Founding Fathers-Era Time Capsule Found in Boston
"It was like brain surgery, with history looking down on us," Malcom Rogers, director of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts said, according to CNN.
Hatchfield had spent nearly seven hours extracting the box from a corner of the Massachusetts State House in December. It then took her more than four hours to loosen the screws on the box. On Tuesday she spent an hour carefully removing the contents using a porcupine quill and a dental tool she had inherited from her father.
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"Though we knew a little bit about what was in the box, it was a moment of extraordinary excitement as this brass container just the size of a cigar box was slowly opened with surgical precision and you suddenly found yourself in the presence of history," Rogers told CNN.
Among the coins recovered were a half-cent, a one-cent, a half-dime, 10-cent and 25-cent coins. Others included a 1652 coin known as a pine tree shilling that had been minted by Massachusetts colonists, and a copper medal displaying George Washington. At the bottom was a silver plate crafted by Paul Revere.
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Secretary of State William Galvin said he expected the items would be displayed at the museum for some time before being placed back beneath the state house cornerstone, possibly with additional items from this era.
The time capsule is believed to be one of the oldest ever recovered in the state - and likely would have remained in place had it not been for concerns that water had been seeping into the State House at that particular corner. That inspection prompted officials to re-excavate the time capsule to investigate its contents and make sure the items remained in good condition.
-- via CNN.