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The Lee monument time capsule opened Monday afternoon includes items that match descriptions from 1887 newspaper archives. Workers found a piece of wood with a bullet in it and a Confederate button, both of which were noted in a list of 60 items placed in the box that dates back to 1887. They also removed papers described as constitution and bylaws of Lee Camp, another match. But the picture of Abraham Lincoln in his coffin wasn't the rare artifact some expected: It was a reproduction from a copy of Harper's Weekly.

Workers are continuing to slowly remove items from the box and attempt to preserve them. Water that seeped into the box has made the process difficult.

Workers found the box Monday around noon underground near the northeast corner of where the Robert E. Lee pedestal once stood. 

It was the second time capsule discovered. Two weeks ago, workers found a lead box containing three books, a pamphlet, a photo and a British coin. 

The second box more closely resembled the description published in two newspapers in 1887. It was copper colored and 14" x 14" x 8" in size. It was also discovered where Masonic tradition indicated it would be -- the northeast corner. 

According to the newspapers, there were 60 items placed inside. The most notable item to historians is a potentially rare photo of Abraham Lincoln in coffin.

Placing a picture of a dead Lincoln beneath a Confederate hero was another way for the South to give its middle finger to the north, said Dale Brumfield, an author and historian who has studied the time capsule. The contents of the box, which are largely related to the Confederacy, have been described as propaganda of the Lost Cause. 

"The Indiana Jones archeology side of all this is fun to watch and hard not to get caught up in, but the important thing to remember is that this is exactly what the people who placed the box hoped for," said Sarah Driggs, a historian and author of "Richmond's Monument Avenue." "That their version of history would continue to be poured over and discussed - 131 years later."

Monuments often are propaganda, Driggs said. The only difference in the case Monument Avenue is that monuments are usually erected by the winners. 

The 60 items placed in the box, according to the Oct. 26, 1887 Richmond Dispatch

1. Compiled history of the Monumental Church

2. Roll of Company B, Twelfth Virginia Infantry

3. Statistics of the city of Richmond

4. Constitution and bylaws of Lee Camp, Confederate Veterans

5. Programme of banquet to Lynn Post, No. 5

6. Virginia Confederate buttons

7. Battle-flag and square and compass made from the tree over Stonewall Jackson’s grave

8. Twelve copper coins

9. Muster-roll of Richmond Sharpshooters, Twenty-first Virginia regiment

10. Badge of the Association of Army Northern Virginia

11. Circular advertisement

12. Copy of Emigrant’s Friend

13. Genealogical tree of the Lee family

14. Confederate treasury notes

15. Copy of seal of the Adjutant-General of the Confederate states

16. A $100,000 Confederate bond, registered

16. $1 Confederate note

18. English penny of 1812

19. Roll of officers and members of Richmond Commandery, No. 2.

20. Individual card of Edward W. Price, general commander, New Jersey

21. Programme of the Ancient Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine on the occasion of the laying of the corner-stone

22. Reports of the Chamber of Commerce for 1886 and 1887

23. Constitution and by-laws of the Virginia Mechanics’ Institute

24. By-laws of Richmond Commandery, No. 2

25. Warrock-Richardson Virginia Almanac for 1887

26. Report Mount Vernon Ladies Association, 1887

27. Picture of Lincoln Lying in his coffin

28. Programme Ancient Order Nobles of Mystic Shrine laying corner-stone of Lee Monument

29. Soldiers’ Life Army of Northern Virginia (by McCarthy)

30. Memorial volume of the Army of Northern Virginia

31. A Guide to Richmond, with maps of Richmond and Virginia

32. Badge corner-stone parade

33. History of First Battle of Manassas

34. Grantham’s Historical Account of Some Memorable Actions in Virginia, 1716

35. Weekly Dispatch October 21, 1887, containing letter of Hon. W.W. Corcoran on General Lee

36. W. Gordon McCabe’s address at the reunion of Pegram’s battalion

37. Picture of memorial window of Pegram’s battlefield at Soldier’s Home

38. Gray and Blue badge

39. Piece of a stone wall, Fredericksburg, Va.

40. Three bullets from battlefield of Fredericksburg

41. One piece of shell from Fredericksburg

42. One piece of wood with Minnie-ball in it from battle-field at Fredericksburg

43. A cut from a tree at the Bloody Angle, Spotsylvania

44. Individual card

45. Programme of three exhibitions by Bremond Institute for the benefit of Lee Monument fund

46. A button from coat of Capt. Bremond

47. Individual card

48. Assortment of United States silver and copper coins

49. Richmond directory

50. One United States silver dollar, 1886

51. Copy of paper 23rd October, 1887

52. Assortment of United States fractional coins

53. One Holy Bible

54. Copies of charters issued by Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter and Grand Commandery of Virginia to its subordinates (on parchment).

55. Fourth edition of Grand Lodge Text-book

56. Copy of Text-Book Grand Chapter of Virginia and Digest

57. Copy Grand Constitution of Grand Encampment United States Knights Templars and proceedings 1886.

58. Copy of Proceedings, 1886, Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, and Grand Commandery of Virginia

59. Programme of exercises observed on occasion of laying of Lee-monument corner-stone.

60. Reprints of proceedings of Grand Lodge of Virginia from 1877 to 1822, containing steel engravings of all grand masters during that period, and also engravings of Dr. John Dove and Hon. R.E. Withers

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

This article originally ran on richmond.com.

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