Rare Darwin book found on toilet bookcase

A first edition of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking Origin Of Species, which languished for years in a toilet, will go under the hammer this week, on the 150th anniversary of the book's publication.

Christie's auction house said the book, estimated to reach £60,000, was bought by a family for just a few shillings in a shop in the West Country about 40 years ago. It has since been kept on a bookcase in the guest lavatory at their home in the Oxford area.

Christie's said the son-in-law of the current owners was at an exhibition on Darwin and spotted a picture of the spine of the work. He realised his in-laws' book was something special, matching the binding in the picture.

"The book is incredibly important," said, Margaret Ford, head of books and manuscripts at Christie's, adding of the current owner: "He knew it (the book) was textually important. He maybe did not know how much of a bargain he was getting."