Can you walk past a op/charity/thrift store without popping in? I certainly can’t. What if you decide to pass on by and there just so happens to be treasures waiting in there that should really belong to you? I couldn’t live with myself!

I was looking for old books, ones that had seen better days and didn’t mind being chopped up so that I could use them in a few crafting ideas I have in my head. Having had a quick whizz around the store I ended up at the book stand and immediately spotted a couple of volumes that had potential. Trouble was, they were way down in the corner and I couldn’t get to them as another shopper was crouched down scanning the shelves. Being terribly English I didn’t want to disturb him so decided to have one more look around the store until he’d finished. As I was passing the manchester section (for those of you not in New Zealand, Manchester means linens! Don’t ask me why – I don’t think anybody knows – at least, the people I’ve asked don’t) and a volunteer placed an interesting looking box on the shelf in front of me.


My years of secondhand shopping has taught me that if there’s a box, tin or suitcase, it always pays to look inside because that’s where the treasures hide. As I opened the tatty cardboard box I gasped as I found it crammed beautiful embroidery that someone had started and not had time to finish.


The cloth had aged beautiful. Some had developed tiny rust marks that I just love.


Underneath the pile of fabric I found yards of wonderfully coloured embroidery silks that had been wound around cardboard and rolled up pieces of newspaper.


I looked at the price on the box and it said $2.50! For friends and family in the UK, that’s about 80p.

I’m fascinated by social history and would love to know who this belonged to and when it was packed away and why. But if you look closely, the box holds many clues.


Having unraveled a length of floss wrapped around a piece of newspaper, I discovered that the original owner wound it around the time that Edge of Darkness’ was playing at the Regal and ‘Casablanca’ at the Adelphi. I’ll spend time this weekend unwinding each of the threads to see what other clues the box holds.

What can $2.50 buy you nowadays? Well,if you decide to pop in to the op shop and not walk on by, and if there’s a sense of hope and a little of bit of luck on your side, it can buy you hours of pleasure.

Until next time…

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  1. Oh how fabulous! What a box of loveliness! I’d love to know what else you unearth as you delve deeper! HOpe you got your hands on those books too ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I think that linens being called Manchester is something to do with Manchester being a large producer of cotton fabrics in the past, probably early settlers from the UK brought the term with them. I think Australia uses the term too.

  3. what a treasure box!

  4. Anthea

     /  May 10, 2008

    I love the Sallie Army and am lucky enough to have one three stores down from my work. I can’t resist and end up going in every day. I’ve never come across anything as fantastic as this though!

  5. What a fabulous box of treasures! I love finding old bits of history like that.

  6. You lucky lady, there at the right time, how lovely!

  7. Mum

     /  May 10, 2008

    What a lovely find. Dad said “Amazing”

  8. What a treasure of FUN!

  9. What a find! I love to think of someone in years to come unearthing a box of my ‘treasures’ and getting a surge of excitment at the contents.

  10. I can never walk past a charity shop, my body won’t let me.
    You sure got some lovely treasure there. Great find.

  11. Fabulous finds! I love looking in the charity shops too..we have quite a few in my town! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. donna

     /  May 11, 2008

    How absolutely delicious but I can’t think of anyone more deserved of these gorgeous bits than you. Are you going to keep them as they are or make them into something fabulous?

  13. OMG JEALOUS!! What a great find! $2.50, I cant believe it! Good score.

  14. Score!!!!!!!!

  15. I find it diffucult to walk past op shops also and you do have one or two good ones in Carterton. I am always looking for a quilt to rescue and have found three in the last year. Thanks for posting the Tiffin Recipe – have made twice now and neither lot has been sent off to the kids yet!
    Regrds – Keriann

  16. Poppy Black

     /  May 11, 2008

    You are so right about boxes and tins! What an amazing find! You will have to treat us to some more secrets from the box as you discover them XXX

  17. Wow, that is a real treasure :o) I love going to flea markets and shops with old things. My best finds were an old kodak brownie camera for 20 kronor and a set of Thyra Ferre Bjorn books for 30 $ usd. It’s a great feeling, when you’re like – ah, it was meant to be!! Enjoy :o)

  18. Wonderful find! Do you think you’ll finish the embroidery pieces?

  19. Loriann

     /  May 13, 2008

    I’m so happy to have found you,my family and I were in New Zealand for several weeks last year and we agreed it is one of the loveliest places on earth. I also love second-hand stores, or thrift shops. My family doesn’t though(the male side anyway!) So on our trip traveling all over the North Island, I had my eyes open for any little shops whenever we came to town. Maybe I wasnt looking in the right places but i couldent find any, until, one day we were driving along a country road near Miranda and I saw the word Antiques! Here it was, it the middle of nowhere,just beautiful rolling green hills and trees. A very old wooden white house with the words The Country Store painted on the side. Treasures were spilling out over the yard. My daughter and I watched it pass as we zoomed by in our big campervan. We looked at each other and both yelled STOP! at the same time my husband was slowing down and making a u-turn(he knew we would HAVE to stop here), while my sons were groaning. The Country Store was like walking into a box or tin, it was bursting with treasures! My daughter,Hannah and I poked around for so long my husband came looking for us twice “just to make sure we were ok”. Be sure to go here if you are ever in the area. It is the old postoffice for the Coromandel. It was wonderful! and we did find our own treasures…


     /  May 13, 2008

    That last comment is such a lovely one. I think it is so funny how one person’s treasure is another person’s trash. On the subject of old books and uses google Julie Arkell. I am going on a couple of her courses this year. It looks like complete escapism! Thanks for the comments on my blog to – it is nice to know you check in. If you ever need a photo to remind you of home then let me know and I could post it for you!

  21. Oh I can’t resist looking in boxes and tins when I’m at car boot sales, they often hold treasures like yours. I love old sewing goodies, I wonder whose they were and they’re so nostalgic.

  22. Wow, what a fantastic find. Not only the embroideries themselves, but as you say, the history contained in the box. I never seem to get lucky in the charity shop but your find has inspired me to keep looking. You never know when a little treasure will be waiting.

  23. That was some find! What a treasure and definite cause for delight and elation! You certainly are sharing these images with an appreciative audience. It is finds like this one that make thrifting soooo fun! Enjoy!

  24. ohhh, alison! that is so exciting. i love your descriptions of what you found- and the photos of those rolled-up newspaper bobbins are beautiful!

  25. Ange

     /  May 17, 2008

    I know the exact feeling…spying a bargain and another shopper blocking your access….a real sense of panic sets in…but one must remain calm & polite. As I read the charity shop tale and scrolled down I gave out an audible gasp when you opened the box !(quite shocked myself!!) This reaction is making me smile & will give me a giggle all day. Simple pleasues, it’s saturday & raining in th UK so what’s a girl to do?… shops here I come x

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