Mystery within a mystery, offers golden opportunity for Tynedale charity

Mystery within a mystery, offers golden opportunity for Tynedale charity

Charities routinely receive donations from deceased estates, and one, the Tynedale Hospice At Home, is on the verge of benefitting from a truly extraordinary find.

As Fred Wyrley-Birch, Director of Anderson & Garland Auctioneers in Newcastle, was sifting through items donated to the hospice, nestling inconspicuously amongst the collection was a miniature decorative book sleeve. As he examined more closely, something quite extraordinary was discovered - seven tiny booklets in French, from a series of tales titled ‘Les Portes Fermées Ou Les Doubles Surprises’. This in itself was charming and unusual, but as he looked more closely, he uncovered more surprises. As he removed each wrapper individually, he found, concealed behind a flap on each cover, illustrations of that particular story - but then, as if these were not mysterious enough, he made another discovery. If the pages were held up to the light, a secret picture would be revealed, completely changing the scene for the viewer. All this on a miniature scale.

Despite many years of experience, Fred had never seen anything quite like this. Further research explained why. It is one of only four known to exist. Recently a museum in New York acquired a copy, at that time one of only three known in the world. They were so amazed at their discovery that they made a short video introducing it as part of their collection. (

All in all, this is one of the most extraordinary books we have ever offered for sale.

Quite how the item came into the possession of the donor is a mystery. The details of the publication, as the above video shows, are also mysterious. The illustrations, with their secretly revealed pictures, make this delightful item particularly special.  

Ashleigh Trotter, Retail Operations Manager, Tynedale Hospice at Home said“We are incredibly grateful to benefit from a wide range of items from deceased estates.  As a charity we rely heavily on support from our community through fundraising activity and donated items to sell in our shops, online or at auction.  This is a fascinating find with proceeds from the sale directly helping families across Tynedale, Ponteland and West Northumberland who need access to our hospice care services.”

‘Les Portes Fermées Ou Les Doubles Surprises’ features as lot 10 in the upcoming Fine Books Auction, which takes place on Tuesday 29th November and carries an auction estimate of £200 - £300. Tynedale Hospice at Home offers three vital care services, pre and post bereavement support for children, adults and families, a hospital transport service and end of life nursing care in the home. As a charity it relies heavily on fundraising activity. All proceeds raised by the sale will directly to helping families across Tynedale, Ponteland and West Northumberland





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