Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Second Time Capsule Contents - Continued June 2, 2015

June 2, 2015

Besides the surprise discovery of 9 coins in soggy newspaper in this second time capsule from 1933 there were two type-written paper documents rolled up and folded inside.  Uncovering these proved to be challenging but rewarding when it resulted in the contents being readable, for the most part, and also presenting a bit of a puzzle.  The soggy mass of paper found was made up of three newspapers: The Halifax Chronicle, The Halifax Herald, and The Kentville Advertiser.  These newspapers are available in digital form or as micro-fiche so can be referenced by researchers at local archives.  This meant that their preservation in this soggy state is not necessary.  However, carefully unwrapping them was critical to free up the coins and the type-written pages.  Once this was done most of the soggy newspaper was discarded.

Single, white page "in situ"
One of the documents found was a single page with a few general comments about education and the apple harvest.  There are some missing words, patches of missing paper and more than a few tears and folds.  Since it is very fragile and very wet the decision was made to leave it embedded in the surrounding pages and stored in a plastic, sealed bag to preserve it in its original state as best we can.  This photograph shows the document revealed before it was folded back up, sandwiched between two thick layers of soggy, brown newspaper.  Is there anything on the back of this page?  Unlikely, given that none of the other typewritten pages in this or the other time capsule are double sided.

First of Two Pages
The second document was two type-written pages pinned together by a metal clasp in the upper left corner.  Freeing up these pages to minimise damage was time consuming but well worth the effort.  The paper is very thin but quite pliable in a wet state.  The pages rapidly dried out and became brittle but by that time they were carefully placed in acid free envelopes for long term preservation.  We also can use clear Mylar envelopes (archival grade, inert) to be able to show these in an exhibit.  The first page (as shown in the photograph labeled First of Two Pages) lists the dignitaries present at the dedication of the property at the time which extended to a second page plus the contents of this time capsule as follows:
  • the three newspapers mentioned above; 
  • nails;
  • cent.
Not sure why the writer said "cent" given that there are 9 coins in total with 7 pennies (cents), 1 nickel (5 cents), and 1 dime (10 cents).  But, perhaps the most curious statement is "nails".  There is no evidence of any nails found anywhere in the capsule.  In fact, I ran a magnet over all the soggy newspaper after all the coins and the two typewritten pages were removed (there was a metal clasp in the corner) and nothing reacted to the magnet.  Could it be that the nails corroded away over the years?  From research we know that there have been time capsules opened in New England with nails from heritage buildings so it was plausible that nails could have been included.

I have included below a short video clip of how I separated the two wet pages.   It is two minutes but the whole effort took about 10 minutes.  All the text is readable in the final form.

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