Dad’s delight as rare Harry Potter book he bought for his children sells for £60,000 at Hansons

Posted on 14/10/2020 in Press Coverage

A Harry Potter book a dad bought to help his children learn English more than 20 years ago has sold at auction for £60,000.

A first edition hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling, unearthed by Hansons Auctioneers books expert Jim Spencer, doubled its £20,000-£30,000 auction estimate – and sparked an international bidding battle.

Four phone bidders competed against internet bidders to buy the rare book - one of only 500 in the first Potter print-run in 1997.The hammer price was £60,000 but the total paid, with buyer’s premium, by a private international buyer was £75,000.

The owner was stunned to discover he owned the ‘seriously scarce’ Potter book as it had been sitting on a book shelf for around 21 years when he randomly decided to check it.

The retired British expat, who worked in aviation and lives in Luxembourg, said: “A couple of months ago when JKR bounced into the main news, I decided to re-read the Potter series. I knew there had been a few first editions sold recently and Hansons was featured on the BBC website so, just to be safe, I checked the criteria.

“I did not think mine would be valuable as it was certainly not purchased when first published.I was very surprised and shocked to see that it did in fact tick all the boxes, but still could not quite believe it until I checked with Jim Spencer.

“I am absolutely delighted with the fantastic sale price achieved. I think that the rarity of the book, the enthusiasm of Jim Spencer, who has positioned himself as the world's foremost Harry Potter expert, and the genius of JK Rowling, who has created a magical world that children from all over the world will be reading about for generations to come, all contributed to such a great result.

“The Harry Potter books are truly iconic - in the very top tier of literature for children - and this first edition can only increase in value in the future. Congratulations to the buyer.”

Jim Spencer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled the book achieved such an outstanding price for our vendor. I hoped it would make £50,000 but to see it sail past that to reach £60,000 was astonishing.

“It’s the highest price ever paid at Hansons for a hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s the fourth one I have found in just over a year. The first one, a former Staffordshire library book bought for £1, made £28,500. The hammer price has risen with every subsequent sale.

“True first issues are seriously scarce. Only 500 were printed, 300 of which were sent to schools and libraries. This is extra rare because it's one of the remaining 200. It's a cliched phrase, but they really are the holy grail for collectors. I’d dreamed of finding one for years.”

The vendor, who bought the book around 18 months after it was first published by mail order from Barnes & Noble, said: “I needed English books to read to my three children at bedtime as I was on a mission to teach them my native language from an early age.Their mother is Luxembourgish and they were going to state schools here in Luxembourg, so I needed to make a bit of an effort.

“It’s just been sitting on a shelf ever since with the rest of the Harry Potter books, with no special care. It’s actually been read only once with the date recorded in the back of the book. One of the children stuck Harry Potter pictures in the book when the first film came out.

“I sent it to Hansons in a tea towel as a little nod to the Hogwarts house-elves, especially Winky and Dobby.I couldn't manage to put the Hogwarts crest on it, but still - another stroke of ethically-loaded genius from JKR that deserves a tip of the hat.”

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, elves wore a uniform made out of a tea towel stamped with the Hogwarts crest. Originally used to dry china, they became the uniform of the Hogwarts’ elves.

The vendor added: “I decided to sell as I’d like to pay off my daughter's student loan for her, which will give her a good credit history and help her to apply for a mortgage.”

The hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was sold in Hansons’ Library Auction on October 13. To find out more, email [email protected].

Books or works on paper to sell?

If you have an item you're considering entering for a future library auction, Jim Spencer can offer free valuations. Rare and important books, works on paper, historcical maps, greetings and postcard collections may be of great value. To find out more, please email [email protected]