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Almost 60 Memorabilia Retrieved From 1887 Time Capsule Under Gen. Lee Statue in Richmond, VA

© AP Photo / Sarah RankinThe lead conservator for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Kate Ridgway, in black, works with other conservators on a box believed to be a time capsule left in the pedestal at the former site of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.
The lead conservator for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Kate Ridgway, in black, works with other conservators on a box believed to be a time capsule left in the pedestal at the former site of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.12.2021
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After another box recovered earlier was exposed which had allegedly been left by workers building the pedestal in the 1880s, the box opened on Tuesday is highly likely the actual 1887 time capsule filled with Confederate artifacts, which has been sought after for several months since the demolition of the statue of the rebel general.
Books, money, Civil War ammunition, documents, and dozens of other relics were discovered amid the remnants of a pedestal that originally supported a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, according to historical conservation experts in Virginia's capital.
As Governor Ralph Northam announced yesterday, the opening of a metal box containing a treasure from the past was broadcast live in front of reporters.
The box was discovered inside a granite enclosure that was practically at ground level, surrounded by fill and other building waste. Workers reportedly removed the top of the granite cage to discover the box, which appeared to be made of copper and was sitting in water.
Unfortunately, the capsule was unable to remain airtight for more than 130 years, and many of the items were damaged by water, and therefore it will take some time for experts, from several days to a couple of weeks, to dry all the items from the moisture before proceeding with their analysis.
Before carefully cutting the box and extracting the contents, the conservators repeated to reporters that according to historical records, including those based on newspapers of the time, about 60 items were donated to the capsule by dozens of Richmond residents, organizations, and companies, including relics of the Confederacy.
Kate Ridgway, the chief conservator for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, said the copper box's measurements and substance match historical reports. Moreover, the contents of the time capsule matched the description of the 1887 time capsule they were looking for as they were unpacked.
The container, which weighed about 36 pounds (16 kg), was discovered in water in a small nook of the pedestal, according to the specialist. And luckily for the scientists, "it's not soup," she said of the dampness of the contents, adding that she assumes "it's in better shape than we expected."
Instead of the much expected rare photo of Lincoln in a coffin, which a newspaper allegedly wrote about at the time, experts discovered a printed photograph from an 1865 issue of Harper's Weekly in the time capsule, which appeared to represent a figure crying over Lincoln's grave.
© REUTERS / JAY PAULSue Donovan, conservator for Special Collections of the University of Virginia Library, removes a piece of wood with a bullet found in a time capsule recovered from Confederate General Robert E. Lee's monument in Richmond, Virginia, U.S., December 28, 2021.
Sue Donovan, conservator for Special Collections of the University of Virginia Library, removes a piece of wood with a bullet found in a time capsule recovered from Confederate General Robert E. Lee's monument in Richmond, Virginia, U.S., December 28, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.12.2021
Sue Donovan, conservator for Special Collections of the University of Virginia Library, removes a piece of wood with a bullet found in a time capsule recovered from Confederate General Robert E. Lee's monument in Richmond, Virginia, U.S., December 28, 2021.
The Lee statue was the only one of five massive Confederate memorials along Monument Avenue that belonged to the state. During the protest movement caused by the police killing of George Floyd, Northam ordered the massive equestrian statue of Lee to be dismantled in 2020. Due to lawsuits related to the statue's demolition, it was finally taken down in September, and the works on the destruction of the pedestal began shortly after.
According to local media reports, once the area is clear, a new capsule with a collection of items commemorating life in 2021 will be buried there.
The new capsule is expected to have 39 items in it that were suggested by local citizens and chosen by a committee. They include: a photograph of a black dancer dancing in front of the defaced statue, a copy of the National Geographic '2020 in Pictures' edition, which features a shot of the Lee monument on the cover, face masks, an expired COVID-19 vaccine, images from Stop Asian Hate protests, BLM posters, a 'Virginia is for Lovers' Pride badge, and a hip-hop album on CD.
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