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Friday, August 16, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake (Or Save It)

Earlier this week, the librarians at the Huntington Library put up a Tumblr post of two slices of wedding cake (complete with frosting) that they found while processing a collection. As it turns out, they are not the only institution with cake collections--our Marianne Moore collection is also home to a piece of piece of preserved cake.

The Moore cake seem to have been a wedding favor--it was found inside a monogrammed box with a ribbon.

Monogrammed box. 2006.4255.001

The piece of cake is about 1 1/4" x 3" and is wrapped in wax paper and then in foil.
Cake. 2006.4255.002

Some of the paper is stuck to the cake and the foil is torn, so I didn't want to risk further damage by unwrapping it for a picture, but I was able to open it slightly to give a glimpse of the cake itself. The cake is dark brown; I am not an expert in cake conservation, so I don't know if it was originally dark or if the color changed with age.  According to a quick internet search, fruit cake and other dark cakes are often used for the groom's cake, which is the cake often distributed as favors.

Cake. 2006.4255.002
Before you ask about bugs, rest assured that in the interest of pest prevention we have separated the cake from its box and store the cake inside a sealed plastic bag, so no creepy-crawlies will be tempted. Of course the cake is so old and so dessicated that I doubt they'd be interested anyway, but it never hurts to take extra precautions.

So now the question is, how many other institutions are repositories of very old cake?

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

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