As the majority of Burton and South Derbyshire children headed back to school last week, parents will have been heading to the shops to buy a range of educational goods for their youngsters.

From iPads to laptops, the number of electrical and modern age technology equipment that children are lugging to school each day is only on the up.

However, an auction house in Etwall is turning back the years as it is about to put a pair of ancient educational pieces under the hammer.

A children's reader and a small book will each be sold at Hansons Auctioneers, in Heage Lane, Etwall.

The children's reader, which was discovered at a listed country house in Somerset, is a small piece of paper with the alphabet, vowel sounds and the Lord's Prayer written on it surrounded by a thin leader frame.

The item measures four inches long by two inches wide and includes a small leather handle big enough for a child to hold.

On the back of the reader is an embossed galleon ship, with '1743' inscribed on the handle to commemorate the year it was made.

Charles Hanson, of Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, has explained that the reader would have been one of the first pieces of equipment a child would have used at school in days gone by.

The children's reader that dates back to 1743
The children's reader that dates back to 1743

Mr Hanson said: "This item gives us a rare insight into how children were taught nearly 300 years ago. The alphabet was, of course, immensely important, as it still is and the Lord's Prayer would have been one of the first things children learned.

"It too would have been used to educate people some 450 years ago. Its size would have made it ideal for small hands to hold."

The other item is a small book entitled 'The Summarie of English Chronicles, collected and published in London in the year of our Lord God 1566.'

The book, which measures four inches deep by 2.5 inches wide includes a whole roster of elements that would have been useful to a school child at the time.

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In the leather book is a calendar of the year 1566, a brief description of England, Wales and Cornwall, the names of all the kings of England and the names of all of the bailiffs and sheriffs of the 'citie of London since the conquest'.

For example, the first chapter which is a brief description of England, states: "That all Britayn, which by two names is called England and Scotland, is an island in the ocean.

"One part of which the Englishmen do inhabit, another part Scottes, the thirde part Welshmen and the fourth part Cornishmen. Language, conditions of law, do differ among themselves. England is the greater parte, which is divided into counties which we call shires."

Mr Hanson continued: "It is fascinating to browse through this tiny leader-bound book which documents executions, plague, conspiracy and, at a time when the United Kingdom is going through Brexit, it would appear that divisions between the Scots, Welsh, English and, at that time, Cornishmen were the norm.

"But the struggle to read the tiny writing makes you realise how lucky we are today to be able to learn anything we want at the touch of a button – in any font size."

Both the children’s reader the ancient book will go under the hammer in Hansons Auctioneers' fine art and antiquarian books auction on Friday, September 29.

The items are currently being valued and anybody wanting to find out more should call 01283 733988 or email service@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk

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