A Harry Potter book bought for just one penny online has sold for thousands at auction – thanks to author J K Rowling.
She signed a 1998 first edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which - by sheer luck - was bought by Derbyshire businessman Mark Cavoto. He had no idea Rowling had signed the copy.
Phone and internet bidders battled to own the first edition which sold for £2,300 to a private international buyer at Hansons’ Fine Art and Library Auction at Bishton Hall in Staffordshire (Dec 12).
Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons, said: “That’s some return for spending one penny. What a great result for an incredibly lucky online purchase. I’m delighted for both the seller and the new owner. The Harry Potter phenomenon forges on.”
Mr Cavoto, 51, from Buxton, Derbyshire, discovered the valuable book by chance thanks to his daughter Holly, now 25.
Father-of-five Mark, who is married to Julie, 51, said: “When Holly was a child, she loved Harry Potter books and started her own collection. About 10 years ago, we decided to sell some of her older books and three of them were snapped up within 20 minutes on eBay for £9.99 each.
“I’m a businessman with a shop in Buxton and I knew this was a business opportunity. I checked the ISBN numbers and sourced the same three books second-hand on Amazon, bought them for a penny each plus postage and sold them in minutes for £9.99 each on eBay.
“It turned into a business. I started buying Harry Potter books for next to nothing at charity shops and online. I currently own around 1,500 copies.”
Mark’s business acumen led to his chance 1p purchase of the book signed by Rowling. He explained: “I was buying around 10 Harry Potter books a day and Holly liked to open all the Jiffy bags. One day she glanced at a book she’d just opened and said, ‘This is no good, it’s got ink on it’.
“She carried on opening the others then went back to it. She stared at me and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s been signed by J K Rowling – and it’s a first impression’.
“I thought she was messing with me but it was true. It was signed 'To Alexandra (again!) J. K. Rowling' and was a 1998 hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second novel in the series.”
This year, Hansons has sold two rare first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, one for £28,500 and another in better condition which made a total of £57,040 in October. Only 500 were printed and most went to schools or libraries.
Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons, said: “We’ve had phenomenal success with Harry Potter books this year – so much so I’m still getting about 50 emails a day from people who think their copy may be valuable.
“I’m delighted Mark has achieved such a good return on his buy. He must have amassed the biggest collection of Harry Potter novels in the world.”
Mark said: “I keep around 1,100 in a warehouse and another 400 at home. They have taken over my office. But this isn’t just about money. The whole thing has been a bit of fun for me and my wife.”
The Harry Potter book was sold on December 12 in Hansons’ Fine Art and Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, ST17 0XN. To find out more or arrange a free valuation, please email [email protected].