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Second time capsule opened at former site of Lee statue



Among the items inside were 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 was a minié ball, a type of bullet commonly used in the American Civil War. More newspapers, books, coins and letters were also discovered inside the box.

Conservators from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources 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.

Crews now will continue to work on preserving and researching the items that were found inside the capsule.


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 department director Julie Langan, weighed 36 pounds and measured 13.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 7.5 inches.

“X-rays give a first look inside the time capsule: Experts believe there may be coins, books, buttons, and even ammunition from the Civil War,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted Tuesday.

The capsule was brought to the conservation lab at the Department of Historic Resources 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 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.

Sue Donovan, a conservator for Special Collections at the University of Virginia, works with the artifacts found in the first time capsule.
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.

CNN’s Amir Vera, Paul P. Murphy, David Williams and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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