A grandmother who amassed Britain’s biggest soap collection in 50 years from more than 2,000 pubs is selling it at auction.
Stephanie Weaver, 78, from Derby, started collecting soap in the 1970s – mostly from hotel bathrooms – when she was in her late twenties.
Their large collection also includes donated items from around 1900 and one from Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
Now she’s decided it’s time to share, and she’ll be selling all her soap at Hanson’s Auctioneers later this month.
Stephanie said: “I was worried about what would happen to my soap collection if I opened my clogs.
Stephanie Weaver, 78, of Littleover, Derby, started collecting soap in the 1970s but recently decided to sell her collection, which totals more than 2,000 bars.
“I don’t want to leave all this to my daughters to clean up.
“I love watching antiques shows on TV and woke up in the middle of the night with a sudden brainwave – Charles Hanson,” she said, referring to the auctioneer, who plays an antiques expert on the TV show. Bargain Hunt, Flog It! appeared! and Antique Road Trip.
Stephanie collected her first bars of soap while on a family vacation in Europe with her daughters.
When she walked into a hotel, she first went to the bathroom to see if there was soap.
If so, she kept it as a souvenir and used soap to wash with instead.
They piled up over the years and Stephanie started hoarding other soaps from supermarkets around the world.
Friends of hers also brought her bars back from her travels, so her collection includes soaps from countries she’s never been to.
Stephanie, a retired accountant, said: “I have everything from everyday brands like Lux and Palmolive to three handmade soaps from Thailand. I can hold it.
Stephanie started collecting soap in the 1970s and her friends and family started bringing her items to add to their treasure chest
Some of the soaps from her collection are still in the box and have not yet been opened, but will be auctioned soon
The oldest soap operas in Stephanie’s collection date back to the 1900s and feature the heads of various monarchs
“My friends have hijacked my collection over the years and when they left, they brought me a bar of soap from the hotels they visited.
“I found one at the Holiday Inn in Amman in the Middle East, but I’ve never been there.
“I suppose the historically most important bar is one I received from a friend that dates from around 1900.
“It shows the heads of different monarchs. I also made a soap crown on a pillow for the 1953 coronation.’
Stephanie keeps the soap in several plastic containers, drawers and two large picnic baskets in her garage.
She listed them all and counted them all and has notes from years ago detailing how many bursts she had at that particular moment.
The impressive collection includes limited edition items such as Peter Rabbit and Fairy soap, as well as bars found in hotels.
The mother-of-two said she began to worry about what would happen to her collection when she was gone – so she started thinking of ways to offload the soap.
She talked to a thrift store about a large donation of soap, but the logistics of selling them individually were too difficult.
So she contacted Charles Hanson, who will be auctioning off the entire collection this month between May 18 and 23.
Stephanie, a grandmother of four, added: “I thought about donating it to charity but when I mentioned it to a charity shop they said bring two or three at a time.
“With 2,000 soaps, it can take years.
The collection ranges from rectangular pieces to animal-shaped soap bars or Christmas ornaments
Stephanie explained that she has a bar of soap from the Holiday Inn in Amman in her collection, although she has never been there
Another orange soap dish from 1900, one of the oldest pieces in Stephanie’s collection
More soaps from Stephanie’s extensive collection, which will be auctioned between May 18 and 23
The soap lover also owns a bar of soap in the shape of a crown and placed on a pillow, which dates from 1953 and was produced for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
“Charles Hanson has an auction nearby that sells unusual things. I got in touch and he got right back to me.
“I don’t care what they earn, I just want to get them a home.”
Charlie Hanson, owner of Hanson’s Auctioneers, said: “Stephanie’s collection is absolutely unique.
“It doesn’t have a particularly high monetary value and I expect it to fetch around £200.
However, it is endearing for sentimental reasons – I have never experienced anything like it.
“I hope we can allay Stephanie’s concerns about her collection and get it cleared at auction. We try to create the sweet flavor of sales success.”
James is an author and travel journalist who writes for The Fashion Vibes. With a love for exploring new cultures and discovering unique destinations, James brings his readers on a journey with him through his articles.