Harry Potter book mania! First edition kept in locked briefcase smashes estimate

Posted on 10/10/2019 in Press Coverage

The Harry Potter phenomenon worked its magic as a rare first edition book in pristine condition smashed its auction estimate to sell for tens of thousands of pounds.

An intense international bidding battle was sparked by the discovery of a hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Hansons Auctioneers.

It was particularly sought after because of its excellent condition – due to the fact its owners, a Lancashire family, kept in a locked briefcase for two decades.

Four phone bidders battled with internet buyers to own the book - one of only 500 hardback copies produced in the first print-run in 1997 when J K Rowling was a relatively unknown author.

It finally sold to a private UK buyer for a total price of £57,040. The original auction estimate was £25,000-£30,000.

Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled the book did so well – it deserved to. 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.

“A 1997 first edition hardback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the holy grail for collectors as so few were printed.

“The owners took such great care of their precious cargo they brought it to me in a briefcase, which they unlocked with a secret code. It felt like we were dealing in smuggled diamonds.”

The seller, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It goes without saying that we’re absolutely delighted with the price achieved and very pleased with the way Hansons handled the sale.

“The book was given to us as gift by an aunt when our children were small. She bought it at an independent book shop when it was first published. The plan was to keep it as a family heirloom. My wife put it in a briefcase to stop the pages turning yellow.”

The book was part of a Harry Potter bonanza – 12 first editions all sold at Hansons’ country house saleroom at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire today (Oct 10). They were discovered following Hansons’ sale of another Philosopher’s Stone first edition for £28,500 in July.

Mr Spencer said: “That book was bought for £1 at a table top sale and it sparked Potter mania. I started receiving 50 emails a day from people who thought they might own a first edition. Out of thousands of contacts, 12 first editions emerged including the star find.”

The other books included four paperback first editions of The Philosopher’s Stone; 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. All 12 Harry Potter books sold for an overall total of more than £75,000.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “It was a phenomenal Harry Potter result, all down to the hard work of our very own books wizard Jim Spencer.”

The Harry Potter books were sold on October 10, 2019 in Hansons’ Fine Art Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, ST17 0XN. To find out more or to arrange a free valuation, email [email protected].