In 1897, one Mr Burgess, the Clerk of Works at Oxford University, donated two shrivelled potatoes to the Pitt Rivers Museum. He usually kept them in his pockets. They were the ultimate “jacket” potatoes.

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is dedicated to categorising and displaying a “democracy of objects” not according to time or nation, but according to human usage. Since the potato is fairly ubiquitous in human culture, it means there are many in the museum’s collection.

In addition to Burgess’s donation, 11 other wrinkled specimens are catalogued in the museum’s collections, and are neatly labelled. The names of the previous owners are usually not identified because most of the potatoes were stolen before they were donated.

But why would someone would want to steal a wrinkly potato? The answer is these were not just any purloined spuds. They were medical charms thought to be cures for rheumatism – and if they were stolen, they were thought to be even more effective.