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Torrington shopkeeper discovers first edition Beatrix Potter book in box he bought at auction

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

By Nicole Travers-Wakeford

  • RARE: The first edition of the much-loved tale. Picture: Rob Tibbles.

  • HIDDEN TREASURE: Adrian and Amanda Shearing with the first edition The Tale Of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter. Picture: Rob Tibbles. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNRT20130125C-001_C

  • INSCRIPTION: To Harriet M Cheshire from Daddy, 1912.

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RUMMAGING around in a box of books led a Torrington shopkeeper to discover a hidden treasure.

Adrian Shearing, 50, discovered a rare first edition Beatrix Potter book at the bottom of a box of novels he bought at an auction in North Devon.

Adrian is selling the 105-year-old copy of The Tale Of Jemima Puddle-Duck in the shop he runs with his wife, Amanda.

The couple have been operating Jack and Molly's Trading Co on the High Street for more than two years.

They stock local eco-friendly products including wooden toys, vintage style games and organic drinks and snacks.

Adrian bid for the auction lot around six weeks ago but only recently got round to sorting through the items.

He said: "I didn't even know this Beatrix Potter book was there.

"I did some research and found out it was a first edition. I was so excited. This book is a bit of history, it is gorgeous with fantastic illustrations.

"The book itself is in very good condition, it has general wear. It is more than 100 years old so I expected it to have a bit of wear because it has been read and enjoyed by children.

"There are thousands of Beatrix Potter books around but finding a first edition is special."

Adrian said there are a few ways to determine whether a Beatrix Potter book is a first edition.

He said the early books were published by F.Warne and Co. Then in the 1920s the name changed to F.Warne and Co Limited.

Adrian said: "The date, 1908, is written on the title page in this book.

"When I turn it over it has 1908 on the reverse of the title page as well. On the end papers there are drawings of mice and hedgehogs."

Adrian used to be a primary school teacher before he set up his shop.

His retail career began when he started selling books on the internet before opening Jack and Molly's Trading Co.

Adrian often visits auctions in the hope of finding something unusual to sell in his shop.

He said: "I go once a week to buy items for the shop. Mostly I go to Barnstaple, Holsworthy and Hatherleigh auctions. I look for anything quirky or interesting.

"It's great fun. Sometimes I discover hidden gems."

Adrian hopes to sell the book for around £100.

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