Harry Potter helps auction year end with touch of magical cheer

Posted on 16/12/2020 in Press Coverage

As Christmas draws near, I would like to thank you all for tuning into the fascinating world of antiques and collectables, writes Charles Hanson.

I hope it’s provided a little bit of escapism during a year that’s rocked us all. There is still a long way to go before normality is restored but we can dream and hope for better times ahead. And, above all, we must support each other.

Many of you will know I was utterly devastated by the blaze at my family church, All Saints at Mackworth, on December 3. I married there, loved ones are buried there and my children were christened there. It’s been part and parcel of Hanson family life for generations.

I will be doing my utmost to help raise money to restore this wonderful church and I hope you will help me, whether it be by fundraising, making a donation or simply spreading the world.

My love of history is what drew me to a career in antiques and to see such a rich historical treasure, entwined in Derbyshire life for 700 years, destroyed in a few hours left me gutted.

It helps me enormously to do something positive to help and I will pull out all the stops to restore All Saints to its former glory.

The fire came just before a very hectic week of Fine Art and general auctions and, I confess, it was incredibly hard to step on to the rostrum and lead sales with my usual energy and gusto. But we must all rise above difficulties. I picked up my gavel and went on to oversee some record-breaking results to complete an unusual but highly successful auction year.

In fact, you could say, we finished 2020 with a touch of magic – Harry Potter magic. Our success in this field is beginning to rival a J K Rowling plot, full of mystery, intrigue and surprising endings. I think we’re even gaining a global following.

Jim Spencer - 'the number one man in the world for Harry Potter'.

It all started in the summer of 2019 when Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer – described by Jeremy Vine on TV as looking like Harry Potter – found a hardback first issue of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was one of only 500 books from the very first Bloomsbury print run in 1997. The ex-Staffordshire library book, bought at a table top sale for £1 and found in a box at a house in Abbots Bromley, near Burton, sold for £28,500.

The resulting worldwide publicity, not to mention Jim’s dedication and professional, led to him receiving hundreds of emails a day from people all over the world convinced they had a Potter first edition. He disappointed most of them but two more emerged. One arrived at Hansons in a locked briefcase, like smuggled diamonds. It sold for £46,000. The other, salvaged from a skip so not in such good condition, made £33,000.

Every Potter find generated more global media coverage. Consequently, when a fourth first issue emerged from Luxembourg, posted to us in a tea towel (below), its owner said he sent it to Jim as he was now ‘the number one man in the world for Harry Potter’. It sold in October for a hammer price of £60,000.

That broke our Potter sales record but we have smashed it again. Incredibly, our December 11, 2020 Library Auction included four more Philosopher hardback first issues from 1997 – that’s eight in total found out of the original 500. One, from Blackpool, was set to go to a car boot sale priced 50p. It sold for £50,000.

But the record-breaker went to a copy found in Nottinghamshire shortly before the auction courtesy of a vendor who wished to remain anonymous. Due to its exceptional condition, it made an astonishing £68,000. The total price paid, with buyer fees, was more than £85,000. Another copy, which emerged from Edinburgh, made £19, 000 and a very badly damaged one reached £17,500. We also achieved £7,000 for a Philosopher’s Stone paperback first issue due to its exceptional condition.

Jim needed the smelling salts after all that and was last seen grappling with worldwide press enquiries from, among others, CNN. He was delighted, both for his sellers and buyers. The latter secure an investment item likely to increase in value due to its rarity and the sellers gain a welcome windfall.

The Harry Potter first edition found in Blackpool by bride-to-be Charlotte Rumsey and her mum Karen Rumsey came just at the right time. Karen plans to downsize and, with a wedding not far away, the cash can be put to good use to benefit the whole family.

Charlotte and Karen Rumsey rescued a Potter first edition from a car boot 50p box.

From our point of view, it’s just nice to play our part in an uplifting story with a happy ending – especially after the year we have all had.

We need more happy endings in 2021. So, if you’re having a clear out and you’re about to drop something into a 50p box, do double check with us! You just never know. If it’s a potentially rare Potter book, Jim Spencer is your man. Email [email protected]

We’re inviting items for our January and February general, Fine Art, toy and coin sales up until December 23 when our salerooms close at 5pm for the festive break. We’ll be back and raring to go on Monday, January 4.

We offer free valuations of all types of antiques and collectables by appointment. You can also drop off items for assessment, again by appointment, at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire DE65 6LS. Call 01283 733988 or email [email protected] to book a slot.

Happy Christmas to you all.