£1 book from car boot sale valued at £1,500

Dr Livingstone's signature, we presume?

The inscription

A book bought for just £1 at a car boot sale seven years ago is set to sell for up to £1,500 today.

Hairdresser Eddie Davies, 67, found the copy of Livingstone's Missionary Travels in South Africa at his local car boot sale in Carmarthen, West Wales.

He realised it was special immediately, when he spotted the inscription inside, which showed that the book had been a gift from the great explorer himself to a friend, Major General Charles Murray May.

Dated London, 29 October, 1857, it read: "With the kindest remembrances of his much obliged and attached friend David Livingstone".

But, Mr Davies tells the Mirror, it was a while before he realised just how much the book was worth. "It was only when I went on the internet later that I discovered these books were being sold for thousands of pounds," he says.

And he suspects he may have missed out on more bargains: "It was just in a bunch of books thrown in a box and I am only sorry I didn't rummage around and see if there were any more treasures in there," he says. "I check all the books at sales now."

The book, which goes under the hammer through auctioneers Rogers Jones & Co today, describes Livingstone's journeys through uncharted territory between 1841 and 1856. He travelled from the Cape of Good Hope through present-day Luanda and Angola, crossing the Kalahari and naming the Victoria Falls.

He published the book a year after his return.

Thanks perhaps to the popularity of programmes such as Cash in the Attic and French Collection, people are getting much better than ever before at unearthing hidden treasures.

Recently, for example, auction house Bonhams sold a dusty piece of jewellery that had been bought for £1.50 in a charity shop. It was identified as a valuable Cartier ruby brooch - and sold for £2,400.

However, sellers are getting cannier too. Charity shop staff, for example, are now trained to spot potential treasures and pass them on to experts, making bargains harder to find.

Your best bet, indeed, may be to check your own cupboards and attic: Bonhams recently estimated that there here could be as much as £60 million worth of jewellery alone lying forgotten around the UK's homes.

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