A chest for treasures (and books)

University chest
Early fifteenth century

The earliest books in the University’s possession were deposited in chests like this one, together with other valuables, as security against money loans. Portable and secured with iron strapping and multiple locks, between twenty and thirty such loan chests operated in Cambridge during the Middle Ages, endowed by alumni and with regulations governing eligibility and terms. The chests were routinely made of pine, probably in northern Poland, and exported to East Anglia from Danzig.

On loan from the Registrary’s Office, Old Schools
Reproduced by kind permission of the Registrary