Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 15:33 UK

Rare volumes left in charity bin

rare books. Pic by CSNA
The books were discovered by staff at the Oxfam store in Stirling

A mystery donor has left four 18th Century volumes described by experts as incredibly rare in a charity book bin.

The books, in gold-tooled calf binding, were given to Stirling's Oxfam bookshop and form part of Clarendon's 1731 six-part History of the Rebellion.

Staff now want to track down the former owner in the hope of completing the collection.

The volumes, which chart the 17th Century Civil War, are each though to be worth about 150.

However, a complete set could fetch more than 2,500.

Carol Gray, manager at the Oxfam store in the city's Murray Place, said the books were received via a book bin and came wrapped in a carrier bag.

I could tell immediately they were potentially valuable of course, but I could hardly believe they were printed in 1731
Carol Gray

She added: "It is very unusual for members of the public to donate such rare books through our book banks though as they often want to come in and donate them personally.

"I was astonished.

"Usually someone donating valuable volumes would want to make sure they weren't damaged, they can be affected by damp if not protected and on occasion someone has set fire to a book bank.

"They also like to ensure we would charge an appropriate price."

'Missing volumes'

Oxfam in Stirling has 22 recycling book banks scattered throughout the city and the surrounding villages as far as Drymen and Balmaha in the Trossachs.

A courier company uplifts the books every fortnight and delivers them to the Stirling store where they are individually priced and sold.

Ms Gray added: "I could tell immediately they were potentially valuable of course, but I could hardly believe they were printed in 1731.

"They are in incredible condition for their age."

Eagle Couriers, who delivered the rare books, has now offered its assistance in tracing the remaining volumes.

Company director Fiona Deas said: "When we heard that these rare books had been found in one of the collection bins we were thrilled as we realised that they could potentially fetch a lot of money for the shop.

"However, when they told us that the whole set would be worth a great deal more, we became determined to help them find the missing volumes."

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