On Tuesday Paul Horner reported:
"The West Point time capsule was opened...and...nothing. Only dirt was in it."
At the time I was corresponding with Erik Goldstein and some colleagues of his at Colonial Williamsburg and wrote that the misattributed gold coin discovery was "better than the West Point box of dirt!" But that wasn't the end of the story. Upon sifting thru the dirt, some coins were indeed found. Richard Miranda forwarded this article the next day.
"It's a bunch of dirt."
A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that appeared to yield little more than dust when it was opened during a disappointing livestream contained hidden treasure after all, the U.S. Military Academy said Wednesday.
It was just more hidden than expected.
The lead box believed to have been placed by cadets in the base of a monument actually contained six silver American coins dating from 1795 to 1828 and a commemorative medal, West Point said in a news release. All were discovered in the sediment of the box, which at Monday's ceremonial opening at the New York academy appeared to be its only contents.
When I first found these, I thought, man, you know, it would have been great to have found these on stage, said West Point archeologist Paul Hudson, who after the event, took the box back to his lab and began carefully sifting through the silt with a small wooden pick and brush.
Before long, lo and behold, there's the edge of a coin sticking out, he recounted by phone,
and I thought, well that's OK. That's something, that's a start.
He said he was as disappointed as anyone by the underwhelming results of the live opening, which brought comparisons to Geraldo Rivera's televised 1986 unsealing of a Chicago hotel vault purportedly belonging to gangster Al Capone, which infamously revealed nothing but dirt. A crowd that had gathered at the U.S. Military Academy had hoped to see military relics or historical documents when experts pried open the top and pointed a camera inside.
It was probably better to extract the coins and medal in a controlled setting anyway, said Hudson, who still plans to analyze the sediment for more clues about what else may have been inside.
What did survive were a 1795 5-cent coin, an 1800 Liberty dollar, 1818 25-cent coin, 10-cent and 1-cent coins from 1827, and an 1828 50-cent coin. There was also an Erie Canal commemorative medal dating to 1826.
To read the complete article, see:
West Point time capsule that appeared to contain nothing more than silt yields centuries-old coins
John Sallay adds:
"Here are photos of the U.S. Mint medal (Julian PE-19) showing the monument to Tadeusz Kosciuszko in which the time capsule was found. The Kosciuszko monument was first proposed in 1825 by John Latrobe, and dedicated in 1828. The bronze statue now on top was not added until 1913. I imagine the time capsule housed an 1825 Erie Canal Medal and not this medal, as this medal was probably struck in 1828 for the dedication ceremony, by which point the time capsule had already been placed in the base of the monument, probably several months before, or perhaps even the previous year.
For information on the monument, see:
Thanks also to Paul Horner, John Sallay and Arthur Shippee
who passed along other articles and videos on the time capsule.
To read the complete articles, see:
West Point discovers artifacts inside 1828 Time capsule!
West Point time capsule: Coins and medal found in mysterious box
A large, nearly 200-year-old time capsule at West Point contained only a few coins, leaving historians perplexed
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
1820S WEST POINT TIME CAPSULE DISCOVERED
Wayne Homren, Editor
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