Bookshop @ 103 Gloucester Rd, Bristol

The Bits in Books

A rare Titanic postcard turned up in the shop recently and raised £238.61 for Amnesty.

Searching through the donations that come into the bookshop is often a delight. We get all sorts of books from brand new paperback fiction to antique tomes with gilded spines.  

There is also a glimpse into people’s lives. Bookmarks, exam revision, family photos all find their way into our sorting area. Some are wanted and returnable; wallets and family albums are sometimes accidentally mixed with a house clearance and hold enough clues to find their owners.  Last year I rang the most frequently occurring number in the back of a donated diary and reunited a daughter with some of her deceased father’s old possessions.

Other times  we have no way of knowing who left the objects and then it’s a scavenger’s paradise.

Postcard of the titanic donated to Books for Amnesty, Gloucester Rd It was Marion that actually spotted the card, just lying on the counter of the pricing area. An old black and white postcard of a ship.

She took it up to Colin who is our record and graphics novel man and who has a bit of experience with vintage Postcards.

“I did a double-take when I spotted the magic word “Titanic”, suspecting it might be worth something.” says Colin,

In April 1912 at the time of it’s launch, The Titanic was the largest man made vessel to take to sea. We all know it’s fated tale and we’ve probably seen at least one film or documentary about it (if not you can watch some here) but not many people have a genuine picture of it and they are quite unusual.

Although in the bookshop we know a fair amount about books and collectibles we tend to use the internet to research our finds and help with pricing. Colin researched the postcard online and found it was a genuine photograph postcard taken by a local photographer called  Willstead in 1912. An identical card in slighter better condition had sold a couple of months back for £250 on ebay.

He called the Bristol Post who came along and took some pictures of him and card and gave us a few minutes of fame: (http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/ultra-rare-titanic-postcard-worth-hundreds-donated-to-bristol-charity-shop-8211-by-accident/story-29533758-detail/story.html)

Then he started an ebay auction. The card went for £238.61 and it’s now being posted (probably not sea mail!) to a collector in Kansas City, far far away from the Titanic’s starting point.

So thank you, for the random bits you leave in donated books. Whether it’s a note that makes us smile, a volunteers old coach ticket magically returned to them (yes this happened) or a postcard worth £238. These are little windows into the lives of the books and the people that owned them and they tell as many stories as the books themselves.

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