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Collection proves a hit

PUBLISHED: 10:07 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:55 03 July 2010

When a mystery donor struggled into a Norfolk Oxfam shop with large boxes containing nearly 300 vinyl records it did not exactly make manager Jenny Newton's heart skip a beat.

When a mystery donor struggled into a Norfolk Oxfam shop with large boxes containing nearly 300 vinyl records it did not exactly make manager Jenny Newton's heart skip a beat.

She had run the branch in King Street, Yarmouth, for too many years not to know that sorting through donations was as unyielding as panning for gold.

But her excitement rapidly grew when she began rummaging through the dusty boxes after the man had gone and found a collection of 1960s and 1970s rock classics - many in mint condition - by such artists as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the Moody Blues.

With the help of her partner and fellow Oxfam worker, Terry Cushion, a vinyl record enthusiast, she began auctioning the records on eBay, selling them for up to £160 to collectors as far afield as Japan, Chile and Canada.

Nearly three years on, and now managing the Oxfam shop in Stowmarket, Suffolk, Ms Newton has about 60 of the records still to sell - and her one regret is not having pressed the donor for his name so she could write and thank him for the £2,000 already raised.

Ms Newton, 53, who lives with her partner at Newton Flotman, south of Norwich, recalled: “He was just an ordinary man in his 50s who explained he had come up from London to clear the house of his brother who had lived locally and just died. He said he was too upset to go through the record collection in detail and just wanted us to take it off his hands.

“You never say no to donations but you know you are just as likely to get a pile of records that are total rubbish.

“I asked him his name but he really did not want to know. I did not press him because it was clear he was struggling to come to terms with his brother's death.”

Mr Cushion, 63, has built up an enviable collection of 20th century classical music and knows where to research rarity and value.

One of the reasons they took the records to Stowmarket with them when they moved last year was that the branch has an internet link to aid their research.

He said: “A lot of the records had not been played and were in mint condition, suggesting the donor's brother might have been something in the music business.”

One that caught his eye was a record by Mott the Hoople that did not have any banding, the spaces you normally get between tracks.

“Then I discovered it was what they call a mispressing in that the tracks did not correspond with what the sleeve said they should be. I sold it on eBay for £160,” he said.

He said they had sold several for more than £100 and many of those remaining to sell were likely to realise £30 to £40.

Stuart Foulkes, from Oxfam head office, said they liked to give individual shop managers the autonomy to develop sales in the best way they could.

He said: “We've been working with eBay for a number of years now, especially when we are donated unusual items such as overseas holidays, cars, even speedboats.”

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