You never know what gem you'll uncover in a second-hand bookshop, but finding a journal from the Napoleonic Wars is like striking pure gold.

In this case it was the diary of Lieutenant-Colonel John Squire, of the Royal Engineers, who served with the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War between 1810 and 1812, that was found in Tasmania.

The amazing discovery was made in the Cracked And Spineless bookshop in Hobart when the journal was found buried under a pile of old books.

Co-owners Mike Gray and Richard Sprent bought the bookshop from the previous owner in 2011, and believe the journal had been lying there for years undiscovered.


"I had left someone to take a look around and they found in it in the back of the shop under some books. I thought at first it was worth A$20 ($21.75)," Gray told Daily Mail Australia.

"But after taking a closer look I saw that it was obviously a very old journal.

"I did some googling about the author of the journal John Squire and soon it was clear how old it was. It's definitely genuine. This particular journal is from May to July in 1811."

The journal is all handwritten and features hand-drawn diagrams.

Gray, who said Squire was mentioned by the Duke of Wellington twice in dispatches, still plans to sell the journal. "We are a small business so we will be selling it. But we won't be mercenary about the price and want to make sure that it'll be properly curated before we sell it on."