Gran who’s amassed 2,000 bars of soap over 50 years selling unique collection at auction

A gran’s huge collection of soap includes donated items from around 1900 and one for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation - and it’s now up for sale.

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A grandmother who’s amassed Britain’s biggest soap collection of more than 2,000 bars over half a century is selling her unique collection at auction. Stephanie Weaver, started collecting soaps in the 1970s - mainly from hotel bathrooms - when she was in her late 20s

The 78-year-old’s huge collection also includes donated items from around 1900 and one for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Now she’s decided the time has come to part with them and will sell all her soap with Hanson Auctioneers later this month.

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Stephanie,  from Littleover in Derby, said: “I’ve been worrying what will happen to my soap collection when I pop my clogs. I don’t want to leave my daughters with all this to clear away.

"I like watching antiques shows on TV and suddenly woke up in the middle of the night with a brainwave - Charles Hanson." Stephanie collected her first bars of soap while on family holidays in Europe with her daughters.

Whenever she went into a hotel, the first thing she would do was go into the bathroom to see if there was any soap. If there was, she saved it as a memento, and used soap to wash with that she’d bought herself.

They mounted up over the years, and Stephanie began saving other soaps from supermarkets around the world. Friends of hers would also bring her back bars from their travels, so her collection contains soap from countries she’s never actually visited.

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Stephanie, a retired bookkeeper, said: "I have everything from everyday brands like Lux and Palmolive to three handmade soaps from Thailand. I may hang on to those. Over the years, my friends latched on to my collection, and whenever they went away, they’d bring me back a bar of soap from hotels they visited.

"I have one from the Holiday Inn in Amman in the Middle East - but I’ve never been there. I suppose the most important bar, historically, is one a friend gave me dating back to circa 1900.

Stephanie Weaver started collecting soaps in the 1970s.Stephanie Weaver started collecting soaps in the 1970s.
Stephanie Weaver started collecting soaps in the 1970s.

"It displays the heads of various monarchs. I also have a soap crown on a cushion made to mark the 1953 coronation." Stephanie stores the soap in various plastic tubs, drawers and two big picnic baskets in her garage.

She used to list and count them all, and has notes from years gone by stating how many bars she had at that specific time. The mum-of-two says she began worrying what will happen to her collection after she’s gone - so started thinking of ways to offload the soap.

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She spoke with a charity shop about a huge soap donation, but the logistics of selling them individually proved too difficult. So she contacted Charles Hanson, who will auction the entire 2000 bar collection between May 18 and May 23 this month.

A soap head from 1900 forms part of Stephanie Weaver’s soap collection. A soap head from 1900 forms part of Stephanie Weaver’s soap collection.
A soap head from 1900 forms part of Stephanie Weaver’s soap collection.

Stephanie, a grandmother of four, added: "I was thinking of donating them to charity - but when I mentioned it to a charity shop, they said bring in two or three at a time. With 2,000 soaps that could take me years.

"Charles Hanson has an auction saleroom nearby and sells unusual things. I got in touch and he contacted me straight away. I am not concerned about what they make, I just want to find a home for them."

Items from Stephanie Weaver’s soap collection. Items from Stephanie Weaver’s soap collection.
Items from Stephanie Weaver’s soap collection.

Charlie Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: "Stephanie’s collection is totally unique. It’s not of a particularly high monetary value, and I would expect it to fetch around £200.

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"However, it’s endearing for sentimental reasons - I’ve never come across anything quite like it. I hope we can wash away Stephanie’s worries about her collection and ensure it cleans up at auction. We’re bidding to create the sweet scent of sale success.”