December 9, 2016

220 Year-Old American Time Capsule Found

220 Year Old Time Capsule

the 220 year old time capsule

I’d love to know how they knew it was there. Was there a treasure map pointing to a location underneath the State House in Boston, Massachusetts? Either way, they were able to locate this copper time capsule that weighed ten pounds at the time they uncovered it.

What’s In The Box?

whats in the box

Pam Hatchfield, the ‎Head of Objects Conservation at Museum of Fine Arts in the Greater Boston Area was chosen to open the box. Something that old has to be dealt with delicately. But, it’s hard to hold back your excitement when you’re about ready to travel back in time.

Pam Took Her Time

pam took her time

With very careful hands, the Museum of Fine Arts Conservator gently loosened the screws and got the time capsule ready to be opened. The process took four hours. Then Michael Comeau, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Archives, attended and gave assistance for the grand opening while they documented everything.

A Message From Back In Time

a message from back in time

One amazing gift from the past was a silver plate. Embedded on it was writing from the people who placed the time capsule in the ground. Can you imagine reading the actual words from the very people who made history themselves?

A Closeup Of The Plate

a closeup of the plate

In the handwritten letter were the infamous names of Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. Another name comes up in the letter, William Scollay. He fought during the Revolutionary War and was promoted to Colonel. He joined the other two in placing the time capsule by the corner stone of the State House.

Paul Revere And Samuel Adams

paul revere and samuel adams

Paul Revere is known for his historical ride through the countryside alerting everyone that the, “British are coming!” He was also an engraver as well as a silversmith, which hints to how the letter was created. Samuel Adams is one of the Founding Fathers of the Untied States.



Still in excellent condition, these newspapers are from over 200 years ago. There were five of them altogether. Each folded perfectly to fit in the time capsule.

For Two Cents

for two cents

The newspapers were for only two cents. Newspapers don’t cost a lot of money now. But, that does give a hint on how much the value of money has changed since then. With a price these days of about $1.50, the cost has grown by 75 times.



Of course, coins are a great way to document the year. When they first placed the time capsule in the ground, they had coins dating back to 1652. It appears that at some time, the time capsule was opened so that coins dating back to 1855 could be added. The coin with the most value was approximated at $10,000.

The Crown Of The Lion

the crown of the lion

It appears there were two time capsules that were buried years ago. The other was in a very strange place and again, I can’t imagine how they figured out its hiding place. Are these things documented with some secret code and someone happens to stumble into them one day? Sounds like fun.

Handing Down The Time Capsule

handing down the time capsule

They found the time capsule underneath the crown of the lion, a statue that is also near the State House. Again, it had to be handled gently. The expert at the top took special precautions to remove the crown and then hand it down to another man waiting patiently below him.

Being Very Careful

being very careful

Then in a very formal presentation, these three men took pains to open it. They had to treat this one as delicately as the one before. They didn’t want to destroy it or anything inside.

It’s Finally Open

its finally open

They first found a red book. They refused to open it though because they thought it would fall apart. But, the actual reason was that they thought it might contain secrets that maybe the American people weren’t ready for yet. I say it was in the box for a reason and should be opened. But, who am I?

Letters And Pictures

letters and pictures

Foreign Relations of the United States: The Annual Message of the President of the United States was eventually opened to reveal that it dated to December 7th, 1896. That means Grover Cleveland was president of the United States at the time. Also, the letters and photos found in the box revealed even more.

Boston Officials

boston officials

These were the men who were considered important at the turn of the century. Two officials can be identified. Thomas Norton Hart at the top left was the Mayor of Boston. Winthrop Murray Craine at the bottom right was Governor. The others are going to need to some further research to figure out.

George Washington On A Copper Coin

george washington on a copper coin

One odd coin stood out among all the other coins. It was a copper piece with George Washington on it. Of course, coins have been through a lot of change and George Washington has managed to remain. But, wonder what the value of it was back then?

All Of The Coins Sorted

all of the coins sorted

They placed quite a few coins in the time capsule. Here they are all sorted out and placed in order of year and value. It’s hard to pin down an actual value, but estimates are in the range of about a hundred thousand dollars.

Wooden Piece Of The Lion

wooden piece of the lion

And as an added bonus, an old piece of wood that used to be a part of the lion was included in the time capsule. The note reads, “Wood removed from the Old Lion age of same 21 years in 1900.” When you think about it, how awesome would that be just to be able to hold it and feel a connection to a time over a century ago?

Many Artifacts

many artefacts

Pam Hatchfield was in awe over the many items that were found in the time capsules. Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Governor came to check out the artifacts. Photos and notes were taken for further research, but then the long anticipated time had finally come.

Returned To The Ground

returned to the ground

Eventually the time capsule was returned with artifacts of today. The secretary of the commonwealth William Francis Galvin, Governor Charlie Baker, and masonic grand master Harvey Waugh were attending when it was returned. Imagine a few hundred years from now when the capsule is opened again! Wonder what they will think of the history collection then?

Detonating Today