Tell Us About the Most Amazing Things You've Found in Old Books - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Tell Us About the Most Amazing Things You’ve Found in Old Books

What fascinating artifacts have you discovered while reading?

Used books often hide more treasures than just great stories.
Used books often hide more treasures than just great stories. congerdesign/Public Domain

When Lorraine Smith found a mysterious manuscript in a used copy of Alice in Wonderland, her discovery sent her on a hunt to uncover the document’s origins. She’d owned and operated a used book shop for 17 years, and never before had one of her titles contained anything like this piece of parchment from 1583.

After we published Smith’s story, Atlas Obscura readers started sharing unexpected discoveries inside used books that they’d made themselves. One reader found a soldier’s records from the Boer War inside a volume of Alexander Pope’s collected letters. Another reported finding a 20-year-old email, printed out, that one of the book’s authors had sent to the other. One reader even found “a small slip of paper,” which turned out to be “a receipt for the purchase of milk from Offin Boardman—dated April 4, 1776.”

We love these stories, and want to hear more. Please tell us: What’s the best or most unexpected treasure you’ve ever discovered hiding in a book?

We want to hear about the incredible old letters, the charming pressed leaves and flowers, the slips of papers earlier readers used as bookmarks and forgot all about. Maybe that reader was you, and you surprised yourself. We’re also here for your stories about the less-than-charming secrets left behind in books—if you’ve found something gross, by all means, tell us about that, too.

Send us your stories via the Google Form below and any images, if you have them, to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com with the words “Book Find” in the subject line. We’ll select our favorites and share them in a future post!