A rare book with a greetings inscription from celebrated socialist, educationalist and workplace reformer Robert Owen to his friend Mary Allsop has gone on display in Newtown.

It all started when Devon-based rare book dealer Alistair Moffatt stumbled upon the book and emailed the Robert Owen Museum in Newtown asking if they were interested in a small pocket-sized leather-bound Almanac from 1850.

An almanac is a yearly calendar giving statistical information on events and phenomena, such as the phases of the moon, times of sunrise and sunset, tides, anniversaries.

Robert Owen Museum chairman Rex Shayler said: “Naturally my initial reaction was a most definite yes should the almanack prove to be the genuine article. Mr Moffatt suggested sending the Almanack to the museum officers to assess the quality.


“Mr Moffatt had done very well to have found us here in Newtown and therefore following an examination in detail the Almanac proved to be much better than we hoped for and a good deal with him was made.”

This display unit - made in oak wood - has been made especially for the special book with the added feature of a digital display – the first of its kind at the museum - showing a slideshow of selected pages within the Almanac.

Mr Shayler added: "This is our first step into the world of modern technology inside our museum and has given us the opportunity for further considerations for greater use of the same in the future, as it allows us to safely display reference material and precious assets and books which might get damaged with continual touch and handling.

“Although these valuable items are under lock and key, we are using this method to preserve them but display them in public.

“We are hoping the new exhibit will draw in more visitors and hence more income for the museum, as visitors are able and invited to make a donation to this free, small museum run totally by volunteers, supported by the Co-op and the Town Council.”

The book remains protected behind glass, but requests can be made to examine the book by pre-booked appointment only by contacting the museum on 01686 625544.