NEW ORLEANS - With a faint smell of mildew, a time capsule from 1914 revealed its secrets.
Textile restoration expert Jessica Hack and book restorer Beth Antoine gingerly lifted each item out of the copper box.
The time capsule was found in the pedestal that used to support the statue of Confederate General P.G.T Beauregard in City Park. The statue was removed last year, and the pedestal was dismantled last week.
Historians knew the capsule was there- but they couldn't be certain that the contents had survived.
In fact, they discovered that at some point over the years, water had leaked into the box, badly damaging two cloth flags and turning parts of printed items into crumbs.
The pages of a New Orleans guidebook were practically glued together, and several Confederate ribbons were warped.
But some items were very much intact, including the one thing Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser said he was most excited to see: The money.
Confederate currency in the capsule included an uncut sheet of bills- dated Oct. 10, 1862.
Louisiana State Museum Interim Director Steven Maklansky wouldn't speculate on the monetary value of the artifacts, but Nungesser said he'd been told that several of the items-- like the currency-- might be extremely valuable.
“The people that turned it over to us told us to make sure we take special care of the flags and the money, because if they are in decent shape, they could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars in value,” said Nungesser, but it's a moot point, because the items are not for sale. Once they're restored, they'll be put on display at the Louisiana State Museum in the French Quarter.
Nungesser skirted the issue when asked to comment on the obviously pro-Confederacy memorabilia-- 49 years after the Confederacy's defeat in the Civil War.
But already, Nungesser is looking forward to another time capsule. He says he's been told that there's one in the pedestal that formerly supported a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, on Canal Street.