Dynamic young book valuer and paintings expert are joining forces to uncover treasures in Lichfield


A dedicated young valuer – who’s made worldwide headlines for antiquarian book discoveries – and a fine art paintings expert are heading to Erasmus Darwin House to uncover new treasures in July.

Jim Spencer, head of books at Hansons Auctioneers, will join the firm’s associate director and fine art expert Adrian Rathbone at a special Books, Maps and Antiques Valuation Day in Lichfield on July 20, 2-4pm.

The event will be held at Erasmus Darwin House in Beacon Street, the former home of English poet and physician Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of naturalist Charles Darwin. Valuations are free but donations will be invited for Erasmus Darwin House.

Mr Rathbone said: “We have had some amazing finds in Lichfield already this year, including a letter from the founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale. I am sure there are plenty of other treasures to be discovered.

“This is a special one-off event and a great opportunity. I will be happy to assess any paintings and general antiques. Jim would like to see antiquarian books, maps and works on paper.”

Jim made headlines across the world this year following the discovery of a sex manual from 1720. It sold for £3,100 at Hansons on March 27 from an estimate of £80-£120. It attracted worldwide bidders after the story made headlines in every corner of the globe.

Jim said: “We have had some incredible successes in the last 17 months and the Georgian sex manual was just one of them. As someone who has always been passionate about books and the printed word, it’s been wonderful to witness.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the people of Lichfield and seeing what fascinating items they can unearth.”

Books, maps and manuscripts have been soaring to success at Hansons Library Auctions thanks to Jim’s dedication.

In February, 2017, the 32-year-old, who says he owes his lifelong love of books to his mother, an English teacher, was tasked with developing this specialist section at Hansons Auctioneers.

Little over a year later, he’s pinching himself over the success he is generating – and the interest sparked among dealers and collectors from the UK and around the world.

He said: “The books and maps in our March Fine Art Auction attracted interest from important collectors in several countries and we are now regularly attracting London dealers.

Jim’s department is born out of a personal passion for books, which at one point saw him work a year without taking a day off.

He said: “I love antiquarian books, fine leather bindings, especially works on natural history, travel and satire.

“Some incredible finds are coming in at Hansons, such as a medieval illuminated manuscript Psalter which sold for £5,800 last September. When I opened that book I just froze. I was shocked to make such an amazing discovery but delighted in equal measure.

The Books, Maps, Paintings and Antiques Valuation Day will be held on July 20, 2-4pm, at Erasmus Darwin House, Beacon Street, Lichfield, WS13 7AD.