The world witnessed its first dedicated Harry Potter Auction on May 5 - and it took place in Staffordshire, writes Jim Spencer.
The stand-alone event, hosted by Hansons Auctioneers at Bishton Hall, included five first issue hardbacks of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the best of which (Lot 1) fetched £41,000.
Only 500 copies of this true first edition were printed, 300 of which were sent to schools and libraries. For collectors, this book is considered the 'holy grail' and the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon. There were six first issue paperbacks of the same, the best (Lot 4) selling for £5,200.
The sale included a proof cover design for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Lot 3), which sold for £9,000. This scarce proof sheet of the proposed illustrated wrappers would have accompanied one of the uncorrected, pre-publication copies of the book (approximately 200 of which were printed). This rare survivor has considerable variations from the final published version.
This specialist auction also included several signed books with wonderful inscriptions from the author. A second issue paperback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Lot 9) was inscribed, 'To Adele, or should I say Ginny Weasley? J K Rowling'. It sold for £3,200.
A first issue hardback of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Lot 10) was signed for the same vendor during the Edinburgh Book Festival in 1998 and sold for £3,500. Other signed books included first editions of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Lot 16 & Lot 17), which were signed by the cast, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Radcliffe had inscribed these 'Magic Rules OK!' and 'Magic Rocks!', the exclamation marks in the form of lightning bolts. These fetched £1,500 and £1,450 respectively.
Jim Spencer, associate director and head of books & works on paper at Hansons Auctioneers, has been described by the BBC as a "magnet" for rare Harry Potter books. In the last 21 months, he has unearthed 13 first issue hardbacks of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - one selling for £68,000 in the firm's December Library Auction.
Mr Spencer said: "It was an incredibly exciting day in the saleroom. People were bidding all over the world. Some of the battles between determined collectors were slow-burning and tense, gradually building to a frenzy. It was an honour to put together this event and share these exciting finds with the world."
The sale, which featured 31 Lots, fetched a total hammer price of more than £150,000.
Jim Spencer is inviting entries for future Harry Potter Auctions and Library Auctions, including antiquarian books, modern firsts, manuscripts, maps, prints, autographs, and ephemera.
For more information, contact Jim by email: [email protected]