If this doesn’t inspire a scavenger hunt in libraries everywhere, I don’t know what will.
Librarians at the University of Reading made an astounding discovery as they catalogued thousands of items. A book that was part of a collection sold by the late typographer John Lewis for £70,000 ($90,951) had two pages that are from one of the very first books printed in England. The two pages alone are worth £100,000 ($129,000).
The pages are from a book called Sarum Ordinal or Sarum Pye, written in medieval Latin. The book explains how priests can organize religious feast days for English saints. The trademark blackletter face and the red marks for paragraphs signal that these pages are the real deal, and the only other surviving section of this particular book sits at the British Library of London, where there are eight double-sided pages.
Why were these pages found in a much younger book? They say that the pages were pasted in this book to reinforce the spine: a rather undignified existence for such rarities in British history. The book was restored this way by a librarian in 1820, who had no idea what these pages actually were. The reinforced book landing in the hands of the University is nothing short of a miracle.
The pages are dated between 1476 and 1477, when printing was a time-consuming and expensive process often reserved to the clergy. The process included dissolving cloth into thinner sheets and soaking pads that inked the writing in urine.
The pages will go on display at the University’s special collections department until May 30th, 2017.
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Featured image via Smithsonian Magazine