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Jokers are itching to get hold of rare powder

It is selling for up to 10 times the price of gold, yet nobody, presumably, would want it near them. The world's rarest itching powder has fetched prices of up to £73.99 for a tenth of a gram on eBay as connoisseurs of the practical joke battle to outbid each other, in a contest that is proving lucrative for the owner of Dinsdale's Famous Joke and Trick Shop in Hull.

George Dinsdale bought up the world's supply of E Series Itching Powder, made from jungle plant extracts, in Africa in the 1930s. It is advertised as being "worse than a cartload of fleas". Now the current owner, Mr Dinsdale's great-nephew Graham Williams, is auctioning the powder online, and prices have rocketed.

The formula for E Series powder has been lost in time but an analysis suggested the main ingredient was a poisonous creeper, Mucuna pruriens, found in tropical regions.