A hymn book printed in 1502 has turned up St Mary's church in Nantwich which was printed by the first printer to set up in London's Fleet Street: the strikingly named Wynkyn de Worde (originally Jan van Wynkyn of Wœrth).
De Worde worked closely with William Caxton, who brought printing to England. The titles of some of the books he printed are familiar, especially The Canterbury Tales and Robin Hood.
The church has chosen to donate the book to Manchester University rather than sell it, despite currently appealing for funds to create a new kitchen and toilet facilities, as well as to repair organs and lighting.
The book is the oldest amongst many old books in the old library of the church, which have now been transferred out as it is difficult to keep them in good condition. Also, having to climb up a spiral staircase into a tower to see the books has hardly encouraged the public.
Most of the books are now at John Rylands Library, and the church will rely on sponsored walks and shaven heads rather than auctioneers' gavels to inch towards its £1m target.
Rare books are a good investment provided that they are in good condition. Typically first editions are the ones people want to collect, though books like this hymn book are so close to the dawn of printing in England that the question doesn't apply.