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Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 17:33 GMT
Second-hand Potter bonanza
Gill Atkins of Phillips
Gill Atkins of Phillips: They hope to raise thousands from the books
An immaculate first edition from best-selling author JK Rowling is just one of a whole treasure trove of valuable books discovered by volunteers in a nationwide chain of charity shops.

The Rowling book - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - is the second in her award-winning Potter triology and is thought to be worth up to 600.

It was among more than 300 apparently worthless novels donated by the public to Oxfam shops around the UK.

They included a rare first edition of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, thought to be worth up 500.

JK Rowling
JK Rowling: Has become a cult figure among fans
Now the auction house Phillips is hoping to raise up 50,000 for Oxfam when it puts all the books up for sale in Bath on 27 April.

Lyn Sykes, of Phillips, said: "It is difficult to know whether people knew they were donating something of value. Some of the books were donated specifically for this sale so their owners were probably aware.

"But some books would have been dropped off at book banks, so people probably didn't know their true value."

The Rowling first edition was found in a shop in Kent. Other vintage classics unearthed include first editions of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes and The Tale of Mr Tod, each thought to be worth up to 300.

Elsewhere, Jessie King's Mummy's Bedtime Story Book, which was left in a shopping centre book bank and is thought to be worth up 200.

If sharp-eyed Oxfam shop workers had not found the literary gems they would most probably have ended up on the 10p shelf.

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