When it comes to marking a book page, we all have our habits. Some fold the page corner back lightly, others use fancy bookmarks or ribbon to save their spot. All reasonable methods to choose from, but someone had other ideas—food.
Recently, a librarian found a 1529 manuscript with a half-eaten cookie stuffed between two pages. The strange situation went viral when Cambridge University Library Special Collections tweeted a photo of the cookie stuffed inside the book, a copy of St. Augustine dating back to 1592.
The library tweeted a photo of the scene with this gentle reminder for guests:
Today’s unexpected discovery in a 1529 volume of Augustine. For future reference, we have acid free paper to mark your place. Please don’t use baked goods.”
The cookie appears to be chocolate chip, but it’s believed to have happened about 50 years ago, according to The Vintage News, and before Cambridge acquired the text. A clearly visible grease stain is likely to have developed over the years as the cookie has been pressed into the pages.
While it’s unfathomable to think how someone could ruin a rare book in such a way, its history sheds a bit of light on the situation. Before coming to the Cambridge collection in 1970, the book was owned by a grammar school, so it’s thought that a young school child must have dropped the baked good between pages.
Today's unexpected discovery in a 1529 volume of Augustine. For future reference, we have acid free paper to mark your place. Please don't use baked goods. pic.twitter.com/YGiLDTjmSk
— Cambridge UL Special Collections (@theULSpecColl) February 21, 2020
No food, drink, or even pens are permitted in the university’s rare books archive.
The university’s library houses other manuscripts, archives, maps, photographs, and other rare books, but this is thought to be the first and only cookie-stuffed book, though not all manuscripts have been thoroughly checked, so you never know!
But book readers, let’s just make sure we don’t add any more. Okay?
Also see, Man turns in 47-year-old can to food bank.