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Subject: Time capsules

Time capsules

From: Mel A. Hardin <merengo>
Date: Friday, June 30, 1995
Mr. Michael McCoglin from Arizona State Archives asked about Time
Capsules and that usually everyone wanted one a week before they
were to be placed. From my one experience I am sure he is correct.

As one who has had to deal with the removal of a 100 year old
capsule and making up a new one, perhaps my experience may be of

It will come of no surprise, if I say the number one problem I had
was moisture invasion. My capsule (imagine a cigar box) was
fabricated with lead sheet and soldered joints. It had been placed
under a bronze monument, just sitting on the marble pedestal
underneath. The bottom joints failed as of acid rain incursion. The
contents (as a result of very little thought) were two daily
newspapers from 1883, and they had turned to mush.

We came across ours by accident, (we were removing the monument for
restoration), there was no record that it existed. I notified the
CEO who then called the Board Chairman. This was a mistake.

If any of you ever have the responsibility to be at a removal of a
"lead box" and you might think it is wet inside, be cautious. Boards
of Directors get all worked up in a lather about public relations
and photo ops when something like this happens. They imagine
something like the discovery of an important  message from Mark
Twain to the citizens of 100 years hence. If you suspect the
contents might be more like wet oatmeal, convince your Director to
wait on calling the Press. If you don't, the Chairman of the Board
is going to blame you for making them all look foolish. After all,
you discovered it.

You cheat fate and this is how I did it. I opened the* bottom* of
the lead box using 2 in. curved  veneer saw. I opened it up and
discovered mush.

Now, just in case you do find an unpublished manuscript of Mr.
Twain, tell the CEO to inform the press of the discovery of the box,
and then with the CEO, the Press and the Chairman there, open the
box again, only this time from the top. The top is fresh, no tool
marks and you will suddenly rediscover the contents and make
everyone feel good.

Now, if you the conservator, don't like the contents, make a quick
search of who was on the Board in 1883. Take a piece of suitable
paper and write a note ".... that people who take care of the old
things should be better paid" and sign a 1883 board members name.
Add this to the contents.

More another time on the replacement we built.

Mel A. Hardin
Staten Island

                   Conservation DistList Instance 9:6
                   Distributed: Sunday, July 2, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-9-6-004
Received on Friday, 30 June, 1995

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