A time capsule is a historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication with future people and to help future archaeologists, anthropologists or historians understand the world as it once was. Time capsules are sometimes created and buried during celebrations such as a World’s fair, a cornerstone lying for a building or at other events of importance. A research of our fair city revealed not one, but two time capsules buried right here on 59th and Lexington. On April 23, 1930, while Bloomingdales was under construction to expand the store, the time capsules were placed in the cornerstones on the Lexington Avenue side.
Hmmm, you must be wondering, what kind of items would Bloomingdales put into a time capsule, a pair of Gucci heels, and a Hermes bag, a David Yurman ring? Well, wonder no more . . . we’ve got the answer all wrapped up in a little brown bag!
Into the first went a horseshoe; a roll of ticker-tape with stock quotes from the previous closing; a radio set, an early electronic receiver to detect, demodulate, and amplify signals; a cocktail shaker with instructions; a phonograph record; a pair of eyeglasses; some current sheet music; a telephotograph of Charles A. Lindbergh and wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh; a wedding ring; several hundred flower seeds; a leather subway strap; a piece of a “talking picture” film; and some newspapers, including, as The New York Times account naturally stated, The New York Times.
There’s no documentation explaining the reasons for including these items or the owner of some of the more personal items. There is a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, who was 35 years old when he signed the ball; it was his tenth year as a Yankee with four more to go. According to Rich Mueller, the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily, “If it remained in good shape, I think it would probably be the most valuable Ruth ball ever sold because of the publicity that would surround it and the story behind it.”
There is also a golf ball signed by top amateur player Bobby Jones. In 1930, Jones was as famous as Ruth: he had just won all four Grand Slam championships in a calendar year and had two ticker-tape parades in 1926 and 1930 – still the only athlete to have two ticker-tape parades. Mueller adds, “Bobby Jones signed golf balls are very rare, too. The fact that he signed it at the peak of his career would make it even more valuable.”
A second box contains a bound volume of written forecasts of 200 years into the future regarding art, literature, religion, science, politics and sports. The prominent citizens who participated in prophecies included 63-year-old Broadway impresario Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld who produced the flashy Ziegfield Follies from 1907 until his death in 1932. Also packed in was a copy of the Congressional Record, photographs, a history of Bloomingdales, banknotes, and coins. There are three bankbooks, each with a deposit of $25, slated for an intended run of 200 years with compound interest. According to the plan, when everything is jack hammered open on April 23, 2130, the total sum, with the hope that the bleak economy that began with the Stock Market crash of 1929 would have recovered, would be $614,400.00, which was a staggering sum in 1930. The money would then be distributed to three New York hospitals by whoever is alive from the Association of Savings Banks.
If you were creating a personal time capsule, what items would you consider important enough to be included?
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