The effect of the presence of drying oils in paper supports on the rate of cellulose degradation is investigated in a novel manner using Solid Phase Micro-extraction (SPME), which is employed to analyse volatile organic compounds (VOCs), emitted from oiled paper. This technique is applied as a non-destructive means of analysing original works of art on paper, in order to detect volatile cellulose degradation products. It is also applied to artificially aged paper samples with and without oil, in order to investigate the extent to which the presence of drying oil accelerates the degradation of cellulose. Furfural and other volatile cellulose degradation products containing a furan ring are selected as representative cellulose degradation products to be measured for the purpose of the investigation. It is demonstrated, by the finding of increased emissions of the selected compounds, that the presence of drying oils accelerates the thermal and oxidative degradation of cellulose in cotton paper and two types of wood pulp based papers.