London  - An untouched and unbound rare first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma is on sale at a collector’s bookshop for almost £100,000.

The book is unique because it is in almost pristine condition and was found with the paper boards it would have had before being sent to the binder to bound in leather. However the novel, which comes in three volumes, escaped the binder and is in almost mint condition.

It is priced at £97,500 and is being sold at Lucius Books in Fossgate in York by owner James Hallgate. It is understood to be the first time the book has been sold.  Mr Hallgate said: ‘This is probably the best copy in the world; it’s in entirely original condition still with the paper boards. ‘Back in those days a customer would buy the book and send it to their binder to be bound in leather. This copy escaped the binder.

‘It’s my favourite piece in the catalogue as it has lasted nearly 200 years in untouched, original condition. There isn’t a single one in the world that will look like that. ‘While copies of Emma in the original boards do appear infrequently, beautiful examples in this entirely untouched condition are of great rarity.’ The book was discovered in a castle in Scotland and has an inscription of Lady M Dalrymple, who is believed to have been its owner. It may also be a coincidence that a character of the same name appears in Austen’s  novel Persuasion, completed in the year of Emma’s publication.

The small shop in York features a number of rare books, including a rare, UK first edition of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby priced at £100,000.

The third highest priced item in the store is a signed, first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale for £80,000. In 2008 a record was set after a first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma was sold for £180,000. The rare set, in three volumes beat previous records and its own estimates of £70,000 after it was sold at auction. The books were thought to be the only surviving copies from the first print run of Emma.