Experts find books, coin and envelope in base of Robert E. Lee statue
A red almanac from 1875, a tattered book, thin brown text, a pamphlet, a coin and an envelope were discovered on Wednesday by conservation experts in a time capsule believed to have been locked in a Confederate monument in Virginia in 1887.
The 134-year-old treasure chest was found in the pedestal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond. The statue of Lee on top of a horse was removed in September, but the box – made of lead – was not discovered until Friday, when crews began work to remove the stone base on which the statue once stood. statue. By Tuesday, the restorers had managed to extract it from the block of granite of 2000 pounds.
Governor Ralph Northam was on site Wednesday, watching Tories work meticulously for hours on end to unseal the small box and reveal the once-precious items inside.
“This is an important day in the history of Richmond and Virginia,” said Northam, just minutes after taking off from the surface.
In a precedent declaration, the governor said: “This monument and its time capsule mirrored Virginia in 1890 – and it’s time to do away with both, so that our public spaces better reflect who we are as a people in 2021.”
As each object was removed from the box and exposed to the 2021 air, experts worked to “stabilize” the artifacts, said Kate Ridgway, conservator at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Historians, working from the Archives of the Library of Virginia, estimate that the time capsule was placed in the cornerstone on October 27, 1887 by 37 residents, organizations and businesses of Richmond, according to the governor’s office.
But their predictions about its content seem inaccurate. They believed as many as 60 objects had been placed inside. And, while the contents of the cloth casing remain unknown, the box contained only a fraction of that number. They had thought the box itself would be copper, but it turned out to be lead.
The 1875 almanac, titled The American ephemeris and the nautical almanac, is described by Britannica as “an annual manual for astronomers, containing the predicted positions in the sky of major celestial objects and other astronomical phenomena”.
“From 1877, under the direction of the astronomer Simon Newcomb, it became the best of the national ephemeris”, specifies the publication.
Another of the books appeared to be an edition of Huguenot Lovers: A History of the Old Dominion by Collinson Pierrepont Edwards Burgwyn.
In the preface to the novel, the author asks “an indulgence for his effort to portray the characteristic of devotion in the Negro”.
“If an excuse is needed for this, he hopes it will be found in his desire to record, so as to remember with every reading of this book, the act of a member of this race who protected the corpse from his brother. on the Gettysburg battlefield. ”
Several objects suffered water damage, which preservation experts said was expected. Part of this was due to water condensation resulting from the rapid changes in temperature inside the box after it was carved out of stone, they said.
The Department of Historic Resources will continue to preserve the artifacts.
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