In reference to the wooden bolted block "found in a barn" with the impression of the seated liberty dime in lead within it - This
is a cornerstone piece. It was constructed like this to contain a coin dated the same year that the given building was constructed. Such cornerstone
blocks were almost always make-shift and came in a variety of shapes and forms, but were almost always preserved in lead being softer than the coin
itself. They were simple time capsules!
Over the last 50 years, I have encountered about two dozen different pieces in the US, Germany, France and Belgium. It appears that
this piece was opened, checked and replaced in the block, thus the double impression. This is one of the more elaborate pieces I've
The simplest such item I've encountered was just a sheet of lead folded several times and placed inside a red brick block which
was hollowed out to accommodate it, but pieces of wooden structure like this one were also placed in wooden buildings and barns to
commemorate barn raisings and other constructions.
Sorry, but I never collected such items, and have no examples to show, although I did once own a piece from the stone bank building in
Abington, Massachusetts that burned down in the 1960's which I no longer own.
Thanks! Having never seen one of these myself, I didn’t know what to make of it either. Ray's explanation makes sense. Be on the
lookout for these in antique shops. -Editor
I've owned three coin shops over the years, two in Tacoma, Washington and one in Hanover, Massachusetts, and while stationed in
Europe have done over a thousand coin shows and mini-show coin-meetings off and on between 1965 and 1988.
I mentioned the Abington Savings Bank in Abington, Mass, the cornerstone piece was an 1883 dollar inside a folded piece of lead
(Probably roofing material) placed inside a tin (a pill tin, I believe) enveloped in sand and placed inside another tin probably a
tobacco tin which was exposed to fire. The bank was built in 1883 and burned on 26 November 1960. My family (the Blanchards) were long
time members of Abington and that's how I got it years ago. Wish I had kept it now! I'm attaching an image of the old bank
building that burned.
I have given this subject some thought and recall various pieces from various locations - naturally the coins were all uncirculated.
One piece from a cigar store in Yelm, Washington, and another from the old sheriff's office in the same vicinity. A Napoleon III, 10
centime piece dated 1863, from either Tours or Poitiers, France, and another from a bank building in Milton, Mass that my uncle renovated
in the 1980's which had a 1876 BU half as its corner stone piece.
Although he brought me the half he told me "When we pulled down the walls, we found hundreds of thousands of checks between the
brick and interior paneling. It took two guys from my crew all afternoon to clean them out and burn them. I brought a few cancelled
checks for you to see along with the corner stone coin." All checks were pre 1910 and had revenue stamps attached!
I've seen several Dutch and German pieces - from Tilburg, Holland; Aachen, Germany, and the old brewery building in Primasens,