Last night I was watching ‘The Antiques Roadshow’, a long-running TV programme on the BBC in the UK. It involves members of the public bringing antiques and so on to show to experts, in order to get more information about them, and a valuation. Those of you in the UK can see the programme on the BBC’s iPlayer for the next five or six days, here.The interesting bit is about 35 minutes 45 seconds into the programme. For those of you who can’t view iPlayer, I’ll give you a rundown. A lady had brought in her copy of ‘The Hobbit’, a first edition from 1937. In about 1940-41, she had lent the book to a friend. She forgot who she’d lent it to, and her friend forgot who she’d borrowed if from, presumably not thinking to look inside the fly-leaf, where the owner’s name was written.

Last year this lady was visiting another friend in Beverley, Yorkshire, and her friend said, “I’ve had a call from Edwina’s daughter. She asked if we’d like to go over and have coffee with her.” Edwina being a friend who had died in the 1970s.

Off the two ladies went, and once they were settled, Edwina’s daughter went out and returned with a bag. She took out the copy of ‘The Hobbit’, saying, “I promised myself if you ever came over, I’d give this back to you.”

The lady in the programme was very pleased to have the book back after sixty-odd years. She was also fairly happy when the expert told her that, at auction, it would fetch between £2,000 and £3,000.