Don’t throw away that old shoebox without first looking into it. For you may end up making the discovery of your life — as a British schoolboy did last week when a dusty box of books he found discarded at the bottom of a cupboard turned out to contain rare works of Sir Isaac Newton.

“I didn’t realise how special they were at first. It is interesting to see books from such a long time ago and I hope that they will stay with the school,” said 16-year-old Will Garside, a physics student of Newcastle-under-Lyme School, Staffordshire.

The Daily Express said the books contained Newton’s Laws of Motion and an account of the principles of gravity spanning more than 1,000 pages. “The set of three volumes is believed to have been the property of the first headmaster, Francis Elliot Kitchener, a keen scientist who was at the school from 1874.”

Auctioneers estimated that the books could be worth “thousands of pounds” but the school said it was not going to part with them.