A second time capsule that was recently found in the pedestal of Richmond, Virginia’s, Robert E. Lee statue was opened Tuesday.
Items inside included an 1865 edition of Harper’s Weekly magazine with an clear image of a figure weeping over Abraham Lincoln’s grave; a Bible with a coin stuck to it; and a Richmond directory.
Also found were more newspapers, books, coins, and letters. A minié ball, a type of bullet commonly used in the American Civil War, was also discovered.
Conservators from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) carefully opened the box and worked with caution. Water was found inside the box and its items had expanded, making it difficult for them to be removed.
Kate Ridgeway, Virginia’s Archaeological Conservator and who led the box’s opening, said the artifact was a “little more wet than we had hoped for.”
Crews now will continue to work on preserving and researching the items that were found inside the capsule over the next couple of days and weeks.
History of the second time capsule
This capsule was a copper box, while the first — opened earlier in December — was a lead box. Both were found where the Lee statue once stood, a Virginia Department of Historic Resources spokesperson said Monday.
The copper box, according to DHR director Julie Langan, weighed 36 pounds and measured 13.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 7.5 inches and was found in a very wet area.
“We thought it was going to be soup, but it’s not soup,” Ridgeway said.
The capsule was then brought to the DHR’s conservation lab where conservators began assessing it, Langan said.
Richmond’s bomb squad was first consulted to make sure it was safe to open.
“It is a second time capsule and likely the one that was known to have been placed in the pedestal,” Langan said. “The one recovered last week was unexpected and likely left by men involved in the construction.”
The first time capsule that was found
The first container was found December 17 while workers were dismantling the statue’s 40-foot pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, according to a news release from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.
The 12-ton statue of Lee on his horse, which was removed in September, had become a focal point for racial justice protests in Richmond, the Confederacy’s former capital.
The first capsule was found in the tower of the pedestal, about 20 feet above ground level. Among the items found inside were an 1875 almanac, two withered books, a coin and a cloth envelope.
Historians believe the first time capsule was placed on October 27, 1887, and included about 60 items that were donated by 37 Richmond residents, many of which were related to the Confederacy, according to the governor’s office.
The state plans to store the pedestal until officials decide what to do with the partial monument.
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