Rare Jane Austen book discovered in Preston charity shop

PAGE TURNER: Shop manager Emily Store with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
PAGE TURNER: Shop manager Emily Store with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
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A team of treasure hunters unearthed a rare book hidden in a mound of old literature.

The five-strong team only started trawling through the book donations at the Oxfam bookshop, Market Street, Preston, last week but within days they had discovered a valuable copy of Jane Austen’s classic tale Pride and Prejudice.

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in TV's Pride and Prejudice

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in TV's Pride and Prejudice

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: “A Jane Austen book came through to the office and it ended up being worth quite a bit. It has been valued at £450. It is a special slightly smaller reprint of the book from 1894.

“We thought it had a signature of the illustrator Hugh Thomas but the signature is a copy that is in every copy of the reprints.”

Oxfam has just launched an online bookstore and the team was formed to valuate books that will be sold over the internet.

A Jane Austen book came through to the office and it ended up being worth quite a bit.

Adam Grayson

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.

“We are always looking for volunteers and donations of stock like books or vinyl.”