Navy Museum Snaps Up Rare First World War Naval Signal Book from Oxfam Bookshop


The General Signals Book 1917

A rare lead-lined naval signal book from the First World War has been bought by The National Museum for the Royal Navy after being listed in an Oxfam bookshop in Bath, England.

The General Signals Book 1917, which was priced at £5,000, contains confidential signals and was discovered among donations in a box  by shop manager Simon Berry. Bookshop volunteers Richard Danns - a retired marine engineer - and Stuart Murray researched and priced the book for the charity's online store and immediately started fielding calls from intrigued historians.

The book was eventually bought for its archives by The National Museum for the Royal Navy in Portsmouth for an undisclosed four figure sum. Signal books were normally officially destroyed after use, hence the book's rarity. It is also lead-lined to enable crew to throw it into the sea to sink in case of capture by enemy forces. 

Last year, Oxfam’s Stirling Books and Music shop in Scotland sold a French first edition of Alice in Wonderland donated to the shop just before Christmas, inscribed by Lewis Carroll to Beatrice Cecilia Harington, one of the children he photographed with Alice Liddell. A London dealer bought it for £3,000.