Experts withdraw documents, make money from Lee Statue Time Capsule – CBS Baltimore

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Conservation experts in Virginia’s capital have been collecting books, money, ammunition, documents and other artifacts since Tuesday. a long-sought time capsule was found in the ruins of a pedestal that once held a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In about two hours, the team opened the 36-pound copper box and carefully pryed it open and recorded what was damp inside. The box has been housed in a foundation stone of the massive Richmond monument – and now most of it has been rebuilt – since 1887.

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The time capsule has attracted considerable interest, both because it had proven elusive in an earlier search and because historical records have led to some speculation that it may contain a rare photo of President Abraham Lincoln after his death. In the end, such a photo was not found.

The conservation team was able to identify many of the items immediately when they were pulled out of the box, although some of the materials were warped from water damage and further study was needed. Experts were on hand to sort out the artifacts.

“They’re more waterlogged than we expected, but not as bad as it could have been,” said Kate Ridgway, conservatorship leader for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The time capsule had been found the day before – buried and submerged in water – by workers carrying out the removal of Lee’s pedestal.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered the removal of a giant equestrian statue of Lee in 2020, amid a global protest movement. murder police by George Floyd. The lawsuit pushed back his plans, and the statue didn’t remove until September, after a court clears the way.

Contemporary news accounts from the late 1800s detailed the location of the box in the foundation of the pedestal, but a search dragged on during the statue’s removal. empty.

Earlier this month, Northam also ordered the removal of the pedestal, and the teams working on the project started searching for artifacts again. Another time capsule has been discovered two weeks ago, creating excitement, but hours of hard work and the last is the anti-high test Given that the artifact was placed by someone else, perhaps someone involved in the construction.

Ridgway said the measurements and copper material of the box opened Tuesday are consistent with historical accounts. Since the contents were not packed, they largely lined up with the items listed in an article of the time.

A tidbit in that article led to some speculation that the capsule may contain a historically significant photograph of Lincoln. It listed among the contents as “a photograph of Lincoln in his casket”.

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On Tuesday, conservators found an 1865 printed photograph from Harper’s Weekly that they say appears to show a grieving figure in front of Lincoln’s grave – but it’s not the photograph. many people expect.

“It is not an original. Sue Donovan, custodian of special collections at the University of Virginia Library, said it may have come from a photograph, but it is an engraving.

The contents of the tightly packed box had expanded from the moisture and stuck together, making dismantling difficult, so the conservators decided to relieve the pressure by cutting off one side.

“It’s not ideal, but it is,” says Ridgway.

After Ridgway and other team members meticulously extract each object, other conservators move the pieces to the back of the lab for further study and cataloging. The team made sure to photograph each subject before manipulation.

Along with a number of water-soaked books, pamphlets and newspapers, the box contained an envelope containing Confederate money, carefully separated by conservators, and two carved artifacts – a Masonic emblem and a leaf. The Confederate flag is said to be made from the tree that grew next to General Stonewall Jackson’s original grave.

Conservators also pulled buttons, coins and Minié balls, a type of ammunition used in the Civil War, from the box. A bomb squad inspected the hold on Monday, in part to make sure there was no live ammunition inside.

Ridgway told reporters after the box was emptied that there was some question as to whether calling the ship a time capsule was the most accurate term, as it did not appear to have a definite date. when it is scheduled to be opened.

“A foundation box is probably more accurate,” she said.

No inscriptions can be seen on the inside or outside of the box, although Ridgway says it’s possible any such engraving could corrode over time.

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The Lee Monument was once part of a collection of Confederate statues that dot the historic Monument Avenue in Richmond, which was the Confederate capital for much of the Civil War period. Other Confederate statues, which were the property of the city, were removed last year. Experts withdraw documents, make money from Lee Statue Time Capsule – CBS Baltimore

Dustin Huang

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