An antiques expert was left shaking after an "extraordinary" student's notebook offering a contemporary scholarly critique of Shakespeare's work was valued at upwards of £30,000 (NZ$50,000).

The tiny book, bound inside an old piece of music, is thought to have been owned by antiquarian, traveller and philologist John Loveday, of Caversham, who amassed a library of 2500 volumes, according to the Daily Mail.

The book, entitled Shakespeare: Comedies and Tragedies, was brought in by Loveday's five-times grandson, who found it in his mother's belongings and believes it was once kept in his ancestor's library.

It was shown to manuscripts specialist Matthew Haley on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow on Sunday — leaving the expert "trembling".

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Haley gushed that the miniature seventeenth-century pad of "scientific scholarly notes", some of which was written in Latin, was one of the most valuable items he had seen on the programme.

He said: "This is a 17th-century hand, this is somebody making notes in the same century as Shakespeare.

"Anything, really, from the same century as him, about him, is of huge interest."

The manuscript was written in a tiny hand, and Haley said: "It's amazing, it's almost completely illegible, but you can pick out the odd word, and you can pick out phrases that appear in Shakespeare."

The notebook is expected to fetch upwards of $50k at auction. Photo / BBC
The notebook is expected to fetch upwards of $50k at auction. Photo / BBC

Speaking from Caversham Park in Reading, where the episode was filmed, Haley described it as an "extraordinary little object", saying: "There is so much research that can be done on this item, it's absolutely extraordinary. My hands are trembling now, just looking at it.

Haley gushed that the miniature pad of 'scientific was one of the most valuable items he had found on the programme. Photo /BBC
Haley gushed that the miniature pad of 'scientific was one of the most valuable items he had found on the programme. Photo /BBC

"He's copying out quotes from various Shakespeare plays. This is incredible. The binding is amazing."

The book is thought to have been carried around in a pocket, and Haley said its value was "enormous". He later admitted he was "knocked for six" by the discovery.

Letters and a postcard by Lord Of The Rings author JRR Tolkien were also valued at up to £15,000.