(BOSTON) — The public will have a chance to see what’s inside America’s oldest time capsule, which dates back to 1795, before it is buried again.
The time capsule will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, briefly this year, although no details have been finalized, a spokeswoman for the museum told ABC News Wednesday.
The “contents will then be buried again,” she said, explaining that it’s unclear for now whether all the items will be reburied, or when that would take place.
A silver plaque at the bottom contained information about the laying of the cornerstone box and is thought to be engraved by American Revolution patriot Paul Revere. Revere and then-Gov. Samuel Adams originally placed the relic under a cornerstone of the Boston Statehouse in 1795.
The brass box was gingerly opened Tuesday in Boston by Pamela Hatchfield, the museum’s head of objects conservation. She removed the lid in front of members of the media, then inspected a newspaper, after previously loosening the screws for about four or five hours, she said.
The folded newspapers appeared to be in very good condition. Inside were silver and copper coins in various denominations dating from 1652 to 1855, when the capsule was opened and then resealed. The value of the contents is unknown, but collectors would pay a “premium” for items from the oldest time capsule in the country, Heritage Auction’s co-founder and co-chair Jim Halperin told ABC News.
“How much of a premium, nobody knows for sure,” Halperin said. “I think there are lots of museums who would love to have the items.”
For perspective, Heritage Auctions sold one 1795 “Draped Bust, Small Eagle” dollar coin, which is not known to be in the time capsule, for $910,625, including buyer’s premium, in Nov. 2013.
Hatchfield said conservation moves at a “glacial” place.
The box was removed from the Massachusetts State House cornerstone on Dec. 11, along with miscellaneous coins. The time capsule, which was X-rayed at the MFA on Dec. 14, weighs 10 pounds and measures 5.5 inches by 7.5 inches by 1.5 inches, officials said.
Museum and state officials removed its contents for the first time since 1855, when its contents were documented and cleaned, officials said. Additional materials were added then to the time capsule, which was placed in brass and plastered into the underside of the granite cornerstone.
Other items included in the time capsule were a copper medal depicting George Washington, a paper impression of the Seal of the Commonwealth, “calling,” or business, cards and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records.
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