Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2020 Issue

A 50-Year-Old Cookie Found in a 500-Year-Old book

A 50-year-old chocolate chip cookie in a 500-year-old book (Cambridge Library photo).

A humorous story came out of the Cambridge University Library a short while ago. Librarians were leafing through a 500-year-old book when they came across an unexpected find. Pressed between the pages was a chocolate chip cookie, and it was not fresh. Apparently, it had been there for 50 years. Not surprisingly, it left some grease stains.

 

The book itself is almost 500 years old. It is a volume of the works of St. Augustine published in 1529. The book was given to the Cambridge Library by a grammar school in 1970. The cookie dates back to then as no food or drink is allowed in the rare book room where it was kept. A schoolboy must have dropped the cookie in the book before it was given to Cambridge.

 

Dropping cookies in books is not a major issue for libraries, but it does remind us of one many libraries do now face. The reality is that this book had not been opened in 50 years. Even now when it was, it was librarians checking on it, not a patron reading the book. Libraries have many old and perhaps significant books, but nobody looks at them. They require space and care, neither of which are inexpensive to provide. Preservation and usefulness don't always go hand in hand, and when they don't, sometimes choices need to be made that are not easy.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
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    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
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    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, London: John Murray, 1818, in four volumes
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