A books valuer who sparked Harry Potter excitement across the world thanks to his discovery of a rare Staffordshire library book is heading to Lichfield to hunt for auction stars.
Jim Spencer, books and works on paper expert at Hansons Auctioneers, will be offering free valuations at Erasmus Darwin House, Beacon Street, on Friday, February 7, from 2-4pm, together with fine art expert Adrian Rathbone.
And they’re hoping the people of Lichfield will come out in force at the charity event and bring items that might gain them an auction windfall. Valuations will be free but donations will be invited for Darwin House.
Mr Spencer, associate director at Hansons, said: “I’m really looking forward to meeting the people of Lichfield and supporting a museum which celebrates the life of Erasmus Darwin, a great academic and literary man.
“We’ve made some amazing discoveries in the county in recent times including a Staffordshire Library book that turned out to be a rare 1997 hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“Bought for £1 at a table top sale years ago, it went on to sell for £28,500 at auction last year and led to the discovery of another first edition from that same first print run of just 500 books.
“In fact, it sparked an avalanche of rare Harry Potter books being entered for sale and around 50 emails a day from people all over the world, utterly convinced they had a first edition too. To this day, I’m still receiving Potter emails.
“The publicity surrounding the find really put Staffordshire on the map with stories appearing all over Europe, North and South America and even India as well as across the UK. Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon.
“But there are plenty of other rare books I’d still like to find, such as a Bay Psalm Book. Maybe this event will bring me the moment I've been dreaming of.”
Mr Rathbone, a fellow associate director at Hansons and head of their Fine Art sales held at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, is also looking forward to the event. He said: “We regularly make amazing finds in Lichfield and I’m sure there are plenty of treasures waiting to be discovered.
“This is a special one-off event and a great opportunity. I will be happy to assess any paintings and general antiques. Jim would love to see antiquarian books, maps and works on paper.”
Free valuations in Staffordshire
The event will be held at Erasmus Darwin House, Beacon Street, Lichfield, WS13 7AD, on Friday, February 7, from 2-4pm. Free valuations are also available every Monday at the Hedgehog Inn, Stafford Road, Lichfield, WS13 8JB,10.30am-12.30pm, and at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, ST17 0XN on Wednesdays, 5-7pm, Thursdays, 10am-4pm and Saturdays, 9am-noon. To find out more, call Carol Jones on 07802 839915.