An eagle-eyed charity shop volunteer spotted the work of renowned Victorian designer Dr Christopher Dresser among a consignment, which could potentially lead to a windfall of £1,200 for a cancer charity.
Larraine Calnan, 68, a volunteer for the last eight years at the Cancer Research UK charity shop in Merthyr Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, thought that the piece of ‘junk’ in a general box of household good, which was destined for the recycling bin, might be something extra special.
She said: “It was tucked away on a top shelf at the back of the shop. I thought it looked quirky so got it down to have a look. It was black apart from the dome. I watch all the antique programmes and research things all the time. I thought it might be something special.”
She decided to take the item to a valuation day, held by auctioneers Hansons, in Cheltenham to see expert Kate Bliss. “I spoke to my husband and we decided to make a day of it and take it along. I spent hours and hours cleaning it to show Kate.”
The mystery object was identified as a letter rack potentially worth £800-£1,200. The item is the work of renowned designer Dr Christopher Dresser for Hukin & Heath of Birmingham and dates back to 1881. Popular with collectors, Dresser objects can sell for thousands of pounds. It will now go under the hammer in Hansons’ Fine Art auction on December 12.