A LITTLE bookshop in a corner of Oxfordshire is making a big name for itself in the world of literature.
The Oxfam bookshop in Thame opened in December 2000 and has since made its mark with creative window displays and rare discoveries.
The most recent find, a set of Arthur Conan Doyle editions including a signed copy of White Company, sold for £1,000 this month.
But it was by no means the first exciting discovery for the shop, which has raised more than £1m for charity within its 500 square feet of retail space.
Manager Dick Jennens, 62, believes its success in unearthing literary gems is a combination of Thame’s location, between London and Oxford, and its ever-increasing reputation.
He said: “It’s fascinating, you never know what you’re going to get in a box of books. It’s like Christmas each day.”
The first find for the store was an original signed copy of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, which sold for £1,800.
But one of his all-time favourite discoveries was when a woman wheeled a giant book in a shopping trolley to the shop.
He said: “She told us it was going into a skip because they were downsizing and their children didn’t want it.”
When they looked at the book it was full of autographs from historical figures such as Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin, and letters from US presidents.
It fetched £11,000, which was shared with the owner.
Mr Jennens said: “It’s incredible to think they could have gone in a skip and been lost forever.”
Another rare find was a first edition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which sold for £995.
Mr Jennens said: “It’s all about matching the owner with the book they want.
“That’s what makes this job interesting.”
Each week the staff create a new window display, with Titanic, James Bond and the Falklands War set to appear soon.
So far this year the shop has made a profit of £140,000 – up 10 per cent on last year and the boxes of books just keep on coming.
Mr Jennens, who runs the shop with a pool of 70 volunteers, said: “I think people have this misconception that if you donate books to a charity shop, they’ll just sell them all for 50p.
“But we have people here that value everything. One of our volunteers worked for years at the Bodleian Library.”
“The other week a couple drove all the way from Birmingham to drop off some books after reading about us.”
A 109-year-old signed copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s White Company and eight other volumes sold for £1,000 earlier this month.
A valuable first edition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm sold for £995 in late 2010.
A signed first edition of Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca sold at auction for £1,800 a few years earlier.
A rare book of historic autographs, including those from Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin sold for £11,000.OP