Boston Time Capsule Reveals 18th Century Treasures

Tuesday, January 6th was a big day for colonial history buffs in the Boston area. The conservators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston finally opened up and removed items from a “time capsule” dating to 1795 Tuesday morning. They found five folded newspapers, a medal featuring George Washington, a silver plaque, a couple of dozen old coins, including one dating to 1655, and the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

A few of the coins were slightly corroded, but the other items were in good condition. Fingerprints could even be seen on the silver plaque.

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Of note, the Boston time capsule was placed in a cornerstone of the Massachusetts Statehouse when construction started back in 1795. Those reportedly involved in placing the time capsule were well-known colonial era figures including Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, the governor of Massachusetts at the time.

Boston time capsule replaced in 1855

The contents of the original Boston time capsule were moved to what was first thought to be a copper box in 1855 and then resealed into the foundation of the building. The time capsule box remained there until it was rediscovered a few months during a water filtration construction project at the statehouse. The box was turned out to be made of brass, conservators report.

Time capsule coins valuable

Experts say the oldest coin in the box was a rare 1652 “Pine Tree Schilling,” made when the new colony didn’t have permission from the king to mint its own currency. Large pine trees were quite valuable during the colonial era as the trees were used as masts for ships

Michael Comeau, the executive director of the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum, commented similar Pine Tree Schillings have recently sold for around $75,000, but given the context of this coin and the association with Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, the value could be several times higher.