Soap enthusiast who has amassed more than 2,000 bars of soaps is auctioning off her collection
A gran who’s amassed Britain’s biggest soap collection of more than 2,000 bars over 50 years is selling it at auction.
Stephanie Weaver, 78, from Derby, started collecting soap in the 1970s – mainly from hotel bathrooms – when she was in her late 20s.
Her huge collection also includes donated items from around 1900 and one from Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
Now she’s decided the time has come to part with it and will sell all her soap with Hansons Auctioneers later this month.
Stephanie said: ‘I’ve been worrying what will happen to my soap collection when I pop my clogs.
Stephanie Weaver, 78, from Littleover, Derby, started collecting soap in the 1970s, but recently decided to sell her collection, which includes more than 2,000 bars
‘I don’t want to leave my daughters with all this to clear away.
‘I like watching antiques shows on TV and suddenly woke up in the middle of the night with a brainwave – Charles Hanson,’ she said, referring to the auctioneer who has appeared as an antiques expert on the television programmes Bargain Hunt, Flog It! and Antiques Road Trip.
Stephanie collected her first bars of soap while on family holidays in Europe with her daughters.
Whenever she went into a hotel, the first thing she would do was go into the bathroom to see if there was any soap.
If there was, she saved it as a memento, and used soap she’s brought herself to wash with instead.
They mounted up over the years, and Stephanie began saving other soaps from supermarkets around the world.
Friends of hers would also bring her back bars from their travels, so her collection contains soap from countries she’s never actually visited.
Stephanie, a retired bookkeeper, said: ‘I have everything from everyday brands like Lux and Palmolive to three handmade soaps from Thailand. I may hang on to those.
Stephanie began collecting soaps in the 1970s and her friends and family started to bring her items to add to her treasure trove
Some of the soaps in her collection are still in their boxes and have not been opened, but will be soon be auctioned
The oldest soaps in Stephanie’s collection date back to 1900s and show heads from different monarchs
‘Over the years, my friends latched on to my collection, and whenever they went away, they’d bring me back a bar of soap from hotels they visited.
‘I have one from the Holiday Inn in Amman in the Middle East – but I’ve never been there.
‘I suppose the most important bar, historically, is one a friend gave me dating back to circa 1900.
‘It displays the heads of various monarchs. I also have a soap crown on a cushion made to mark the 1953 coronation.’
Stephanie stores the soap in various plastic tubs, drawers and two big picnic baskets in her garage.
She used to list and count them all, and has notes from years gone by stating how many bars she had at that specific time.
The impressive collection includes limited items such as Peter Rabbit and Fairy soaps as well as bars found in hotels
The mother-of-two said she began worrying what would happen to her collection after she’d gone – so started thinking of ways to offload the soap.
She spoke with a charity shop about a huge soap donation, but the logistics of selling them individually proved too difficult.
So, she contacted Charles Hanson, who will auction the entire collection between May 18 and May 23 this month.
Stephanie, a grandmother of four, added: ‘I was thinking of donating them to charity – but when I mentioned it to a charity shop, they said bring in two or three at a time.
‘With 2,000 soaps that could take me years.
The collection ranges from rectangular bars to bars of soap shaped like animals or Christmas ornaments
Stephanie explained that her collection includes a soap bar from the Holiday Inn in Amman, even though she’s never been there
Another orange soap head from 1900 which is one of the oldest pieces in Stephanie’s collection
More soap from Stephanie’s extensive collection, which will be auctioned between May 18 and 23
The soap enthusiast also owns a piece of soap shaped like a crown and placed on a cushion, which dates back to 1953 and was produced to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation
‘Charles Hanson has an auction saleroom nearby and sells unusual things. I got in touch and he contacted me straight away.
‘I am not concerned about what they make, I just want to find a home for them.’
Charlie Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: ‘Stephanie’s collection is totally unique.
‘It’s not of a particularly high monetary value, and I would expect it to fetch around £200.
‘However, it’s endearing for sentimental reasons – I’ve never come across anything quite like it.
‘I hope we can wash away Stephanie’s worries about her collection and ensure it cleans up at auction. We’re bidding to create the sweet scent of sale success.’