A team of treasure hunters unearthed a rare book hidden in a mound of old literature.
The five-strong team started trawling through the book donations at the Oxfam bookshop, in Preston, Lancashire, last week but within days they had discovered a valuable copy of Jane Austen’s classic tale Pride and Prejudice.
The author gained much of her inspiration from Hampshire when she spent much of her time outdoors with her family.
She frequently travelled to Portsmouth to visit her brothers, Francis and Charles, who served in the Royal Navy.
Originally the hunters thought they had stumbled on a first edition signed copy.
After some investigation they found it was only a Victorian re-print but the golden decorated book from 1894 is still worth hundreds of pounds.
Store manager Adam Grayson, 29, said: ‘It ended up being worth quite a bit. It has been valued at £450.’
Jane was an English novelist writing romantic fiction which earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Oxfam has just launched an online bookstore and the team was formed to valuate books that will be sold over the internet.
And Adam believes the quest to find unique books is what keeps it interesting.
He said: “It keeps the job fun. We have 45 volunteers and now we have a team of five hunting through the books for rare copies.
“Sometimes it is actually like a treasure hunt.
“When we find books we think will be of high value we put them aside. They only got together last week and they found the book on Wednesday.
“It is a really nice find for them, especially so soon.”
But this is not the first time the Preston bookshop has uncovered an old gem.
Adam said: “As far as we know the Jane Austen book was a random donation that came in. Most of our stock comes over the door or through book banks at supermarkets. We are still sorting through stock from Christmas.
“We have only had two or three finds like this in the last couple of years, an 1896 copy of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and a first UK edition of the Great Gatsby which went for £300.
“Any money that we raise from the shop goes to supporting Oxfam’s quick action team that go and help in crisis situations just like after the Nepal earthquake.
“So the money we raise in the shops is vital.”