Finding tiny treasures inside old books is stock in trade for Waverley secondhand book seller Patrick McKenna.

Over the past few years his shop, The Book Bank, in Waverley has attracted customers from as far away as the South Island.

He's fairly new in South Taranaki after spending most of his life trading in Masterton and living in Greytown.

His small shop on the ground floor of the old converted Westpac Bank is a cosy retreat for book lovers on the prowl for some exciting old literature.

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Mr McKenna was a longtime Wairarapa musician, among other things in his life which he said have included ''anything and everything" .

"No regrets there I can tell you. But I have to say, people were pretty adventurous back in the 1960s and '70s."

His well-known shop, Pat's Books, in Masterton was a must-visit for many people.

He admits he is very particular about his books. But what really excites him is when old books are what he'll discover.

"I never know what I will find. People leave all sorts of things inside books.''

To date he has found Art Union, Golden Kiwi and Lotto tickets, doctor's prescriptions, personal letters, postcards, drawings, paintings, bus tickets and tired bank notes.

"I've also found wonderful old recipes, knitting patterns and prize certificates.''

He hasn't won anything on the old lottery tickets. "Well, probably because I never check them ... they're too old.''

Customers are frequently in his snug shop with many of them looking for valuable first editions, or books that are more than 100 years old and still in immaculate condition.

"People pay for wonderful old books thay love them. They're not the type of person that comes in for a metre of dark green books to match the new lounge suite.''

As well as the hundreds of well-bound books carefully lined up, there is also an array of old paintings for sale on the walls. A small room in the front is stacked with speciality books such as recipe books by Mrs Beeton and Aunt Daisy and a couple published by Country Women's Institutes featuring recipes for roast meats, spectacular gravies and puddings like blancmanges and jelly mould fluffs.

Mr McKenna pointed out his special shelf with its display of old thin journal-style books written by people who were keen on their town's gardening history or small books about a special farm or old house.

"You would just be amazed at the number of people who clean out their old mum's house and put these wee books in boxes to hurl out at the dump. I love these books - they are full of history."

His shop even has a children's section. No Harry Potter books, though, it was all Enid Blyton, and old annuals like Boys' Own and Girls' Own.

And he's very proud of a first edition of Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming.
"Look at it, it's perfect.''

And just last week a tiny watercolour had fluttered from the pages of a book.
"It's signed and depicts a scene in County Antrim, Ireland. I'll look after it and maybe the owner will contact me.''