After years of searching, a stunned books expert has uncovered his second hardback Harry Potter first edition within a matter of months – potentially worth £30,000.
In July, Jim Spencer watched a 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone first edition, which he’d found in Staffordshire, sell for £28,500 at Hansons Auctioneers.
Now he’s hoping history will repeat itself because he’s discovered a second genuine hardback first edition – this time in Lancashire – and says the condition and scarcity value mean it’s potentially worth even more.
It will go under the hammer at Hansons on October 10 with a guide price of £25,000-£30,000. But the Harry Potter bonanza doesn’t stop there. The sale also includes 11 more Harry Potter first editions – one signed by J K Rowling - all unearthed following worldwide publicity generated by the July sale. In total, the books are expected to sell for between £35,000-£40,000.
Mr Spencer, associate director at Hansons, said: “Due to amazing news coverage across the UK and as far afield as Japan and Korea, we were flooding with emails and enquiries from people who thought they might have a first edition. At one point I was receiving 50 emails a day.
“A first edition hardback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the holy grail for collectors as so few were printed. To find another one so soon after the July sale has knocked my socks off.
“The owners took such great care of their precious cargo they brought it to me in a briefcase, which they unlocked with a code. It felt like we were dealing in smuggled diamonds.
'I couldn't believe the condition of the book'
“I couldn't believe the condition of it – almost like the day it was made. I can’t imagine a better copy can be found.
“Only 500 copies of the true first impression hardback were printed, 300 of which were sent to libraries and schools. This new discovery is scarcer than the previous find, which was a former Staffordshire library book. It deserves to fetch much more.”
The excellent condition of the latest star find is all down to a decision taken by the vendors, retired civil servants from Lancashire who wish to remain anonymous.
The seller said: “It’s been locked away in a briefcase along with a first edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which is also up for auction. The plan was to keep them as family heirlooms, which is why my wife put them in a briefcase. It was to stop the pages turning yellow.
“Both books were posted to us as gifts by an aunt when they were first published. She bought them at an independent book shop which recommended the first Harry Potter book as suitable reading for a young family.
“We used to read it to our children at bedtime in the late 1990s and they were riveted. The second book was eagerly awaited and the whole family was hooked by the magic of Harry Potter.
“When we read about the first edition being sold at Hansons, we thought what’s the use of our books lying around in a briefcase when a collector might treasure them.”
The Hansons auction, which will be held at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire, offers a golden opportunity to Potter fans.
In the same sale, are four paperback first editions of The Philosopher’s Stone, with estimates ranging from £1,000 to £2,500; four hardback first editions of the second book in the series Chamber of Secrets – one signed by J K Rowling; two hardback first editions of Prisoner of Azkaban, third in the series, and one hardback first edition of Goblet of Fire. The latter isn’t valuable but is being offered in one of the lots.
Mr Spencer said: “In the signed copy of Chamber of Secrets, Rowling has inscribed a message stating that she hopes the recipient will like this book as much as the first. She rarely signs, so it’ll do very well. I’m guiding that one at £2,500-£3,000. It was acquired at a book signing at Waterstones in Aberdeen in 1998.”
“The fact that the Harry Potter book we sold in July had been bought at a table top sale for £1, sparked a lot of interest and excitement. People all over the world have been checking to see if they own a first edition.
“It famously contains two typographical errors including ‘1 wand’ being printed twice in a list and there’s an incorrect spelling of ‘Philosopher’s’ on the back cover. However, the most crucial issue point of all is that the publication line must read ‘10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1’. If that line stops at say 3, it's a third impression; if it stops at 8 it's an eighth impression and so on. It has to go down to 1.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “These Harry Potter books just keep J K Rowling in! I’m sure someone out there will have a few thousands Quidditch to spend. In all seriousness, this is a phenomenal opportunity for Potter fans the world over. If you have ever wanted a first edition, here is your golden opportunity.”
The Harry Potter books will be sold on October 10 in Hansons’ Fine Art Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, ST17 0XN. To find out more, email [email protected].