Rugs with stains, a ‘thermocummer’ and broken vacuum cleaners are among the bizarre tat that American embassies around the world are selling

Think of it as your chance to own a piece of history. The US embassy in London – a Grade II-listed modernist building, site of a Vietnam war demonstration, visited by generations of US presidents – is holding an online auction of “surplus property” and you only have until Wednesday next week to bid for rare finds such as a pallet of toilet rolls, some broken vacuum cleaners and a scuffed coffee table.

It is a curious jumble of items: desk lamps, a Volvo S80, boring bookcases, a circular saw, 22 plastic stacking chairs, five broken Dyson vacuum cleaners and a defective photocopier (price: £1; condition: scrap). Most useful, perhaps, is the pallet of 1,200 loo rolls, which, at the time of writing, had no bids from its £100 starting price. Why such a surplus? Do they ration them?

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Read More Need 1,200 rolls of toilet paper? Try the US embassy’s online auction

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