A colecttion of smoking pipes sparked a frenzy of interest from customers when they were handed in at a Lincoln charity shop. Over 60 pipes were donated to Barnardos in High Street, Lincoln, with 36 being sold within the first two days of being put on display.

The final two were sold yesterday and customers are still visiting the store asking if any more will become available.

The pipes, which were priced from £3.99 to £19.99, were handed in to the charity by a collector around six months ago.

Yet staff held on to them while trying to decided how best to display them in the shop’s front window.

They finally went on sale on Monday, May 9, and have been the talking point among staff and customers ever since.

Manager Elaine Exton said: “It’s been one of the most unusual donations we’ve ever had.

“The pipes came in from a collector who was cleaning his house out. As soon as we saw them we knew we could do an interesting display.

“There were all sorts of different ones, from plain run-of-the-mill ones to about 20 that were perfectly boxed and hadn’t been used.

“As soon as we put them in the window, we began getting interest, and they have since proved really popular with customers.

“They have been bought from all different types of people from collectors to students. They were all sold individually and the last ones sold yesterday.

“But we are still getting lots of inquiries about whether we’ll get any more in. They seem to have really captured people’s imagination.”

Zoe Slaven, a 23-year-old sales assistant at Barnados, said: “I’ve worked at Barnados for almost two years and never seen a donation quite like it.

“We sold many of them in the first two days with a lot of elderly men coming in to buy them.

“One chap even brought in his own pipe so he could compare the weight. We’ve had some women buying them for their partners as well.”

Colin Young, of Lincoln Auction house Golding Young & Thos Mawer, says smoking memorabilia has long had an historical appeal for collectors.

He said: “Despite being non-PC, smoking collectables are keenly sought after at auction and as popular as ever. We recently sold a Dunhill lighter for £1,000.

“Whenever we have any smoking Dunhill memorabilia or pipes come in to the auction rooms we get a raft of inquiries coming in about them.

“Pipes are a particularly niche market for a collector and I’m not surprised they flew off the shelves.”