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Junkshop Gem: Burglar To The Nobility

Rubysparks Every generation has its minor celebrities - famous for 15 minutes, then off back to obscurity. In the 1940s, that was Ruby Sparks - and Burglar To The Nobility was his story.

Ruby Sparks was a villain, pure and simple. From the earlist days as a child thief, through to robbery with a horse and cart and later widespread notoriety - Ruby was the first man to do a "smash and grab" in Britain and the first to use a getaway car. And while we're onto his achievements. he was also the first man to escape from Dartmoor prison (he also started the infamous riot there and escaped from Strangeways in a suit made out of an old mail bag).

Played out like an Ealing Comedy with added violence, Burglar To The Nobility is a cracking read. Gritty realism, amusing anecdotes, some pictures of the time and a "crime doesn't pay" mesaage at the end. Not to mention a great period cover.

Cost £1 and worth every penny.

Find a copy on the Abebooks booksellers network

Junkshop Gems: Ladybird books


You probably remember Ladybird books from school or the local library - short, image-packed reference guides to the past, present - and even the future. Unfortunately they dated and got discarded, finding their way into junk shops and secondhand bookstores. Well, here's some good news - Ladybird books are definitely a collectable for the future.

They're great little guides - well-written, superbly illustrated and if you pick the right ones (like the ones above), fantastic period pieces. Very old copies are already worth a small fortune, but the 60s titles can be picked up for very little - and are probably the best of the lot.

We paid no more than £1 for any of the titles pictured above, yet they're great reads, great to look at and if you put them away for a few years, possibly very shrewd investments.

See all Ladybird books currently on eBay

Junkshop Gem: The Mods by Sandra Lawrence

Themods Rather than being a junkshop gem, The Mods by Sandra Lawrence is actually an eBay gem - although "gem" might be pushing the point a bit.

It's a classic example of trashy 60s fiction - or should that be photo fiction, packed with staged period snaps to accompany the plotline. And what a plotline - Julie is a young mod girl, saved from a biker gang by the gang's leader, David. They fall for each other, but there are more problems than just the mod/rocker thing. Julie's brother happens to by king of the mods and isn't keen. And both David and Julie's fathers happen to have an ongoing feud, so they don't approve either. And with this being trash fiction, you can throw in some violence and tragedy too.

If you want the full rundown, check out my review of the book on the Modculture website. And if you're still keen, you should be able to find a copy for under £10 online.

Read the full book review at Modculture

Junkshop Gem: Slade by George Tremlett

Slade_book "In a few years' time, we may all be saying that Slade are the most important rock group to have emerged since The Beatles."

So begins our latest junkshop gem, Slade by George Tremlett. George, it would seem, is (or was) an old-school music journalist and member of the Greater London Council. His book on Slade was written at the band's peak and written in conjunction with the band prior to their appearance in their first (and only) feature film, Flame.

George's adulation of Slade seems laughable now, with the band now just seen as a novelty Christmas act (if they're remembered at all), but in 1975, Slade really were huge - 20,000 fan club members (says the book), chart-topping regulars and a big screen debut in the pipeline. And that's why this book is so good - as well as telling you all you'll ever need to know about the band, including an exhaustive history (with photos and a list of every gig played)  - it's a piece of history from a long-gone era - when four ordinary lads with bad hair and platform shoes ruled the pop world in the pre-punk years. And yes, life seemed just like the Reeves and Mortimer spoof, "Slade at home".

Pay no more than £3 - but worth every penny.

DK launches antiques and collectables online catalogue

Colombo_1 Good news for those of you interested in the value of your junkshop finds - leading publisher Dorling Kindersley has launched a new antiques and collectables online catalogue, based on their bestselling antiques and collectables guide books.

There's over 30,000 full colour photographs complete with prices and descriptions, broken down into sections including jewellery, glass, furniture, porcelain and our favourite - modern classics. And to launch the site, they're also running a competition to win a collectable Murano Sommerso orange clear glass vase, worth over £400.

It's far from complete, judging by some of sample searches I've just done. But it is free - and does cover many of the basics.

Visit the DK online catalogue

Build your own 70s house

Dailymail_1 You can keep your cottages and your new-build mock-Georgian homes - I want the same house now as I did as a child, a stylish early 70s number, just like Bob and Thelma's place in Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads.

Sadly, these fine examples of housebuilding excess and design daring have now been destroyed beyond belief - usually via conservatories, double glazing doors and block paving. But fear not - we've found a way of re-creating the 70s home with out an extortionate architect's fee - the Daily Mail Book Of House Plans 1972.

Yes, our latest junkshop gem is a shrine to 70s design. Picked up for less than £1, it packs in over 50 different house specifications of the day, including full floor plans, interior ideas and a number of suppliers who could make your dreams come true. Read on after the turn for a couple of interior shots from the book - and if you see a copy - buy it!

Continue reading "Build your own 70s house" »


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