By Aliki Kraterou
A first edition Harry Potter book that was bought for only £1, went under the hammer for a whopping £34,200.
The classic first edition copy of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was sold by Hanson Auctioneers on the 31st of July (WEDS), coincidentally JK Rowling’s and Harry Potter’s birthday.
The book was rejected by a few publishers before getting published by Bloomsbury on June 30, 1997, when no one could have imagined the impact it was about to have worldwide- a copy was sold in May for £28,000 in May and another, signed by JK Rowling, made £68,000 at auction.
And although the book contains a few typographical errors, the misspelled ‘philosopher’s’ on the back page and the words ‘1 wand’ twice , it is considered incredibly valuable and was estimated to be sold for between £20,000-£30,000.
The owner, a 54- year old office worker who wishes to remain anonymous said: “I can’t believe it-it’s what I’d hoped for but I never really believed my book would make that price.
“I knew another Harry Potter first edition had sold for £28,000 but I was panicking as there had been no bids prior to the sale.
“When I checked to see if it had sold, I was amazed.”
Jim Spencer, head of books and works on paper at Hansons, said: “It’s a pretty impressive return for a book bought 20 years ago for £1.
“I’m delighted for the seller, and the buyer, a private UK collector.
“Three phone bidders battled it out to own this very special first edition in what was a tense battle.”
The rare first edition was sitting in its owners library in Staffordshire, collecting dust for 20 years, before the owner realised its value.
The seller said: “I bought the book along with three or four others to read on holiday about 20 years ago- I thought nothing of it at the time.
“I read the book, in fact I’ve read all the Harry Potter series, and then put it away in a cupboard for years.
Mr Spencer said: “When our client bought the book for £1 all those years ago no-one realised what a huge impact the Harry Potter stories would have globally.
“The majority of the books in that first print run went to schools and libraries-they are extremely rare.
“This is a landmark in children’s literature, but it appeals to young and old.
“Everybody knows this book-this is the holy grail for so many collectors.”
“It was incredible checking off all those issue points and seeing them for myself, one by one,” said Mr Spencer.
“By pure luck, our Library Auction was scheduled for July 31 – Harry Potter and J K Rowling’s birthdays.
“I think Harry Potter must have waved his wand over us-some things are just meant to be.”
Mr Spencer added: “I found the book when I was called to a client’s house near Stafford to value three boxes of books. There it was – the holy grail of Harry Potter books- I was so excite.
“Every book valuer dreams of finding one of these.
“I was slightly caught in disbelief when I first saw it. I receive calls every week from people saying they have a first edition Harry Potter.
“In fact, when news of this discovery broke, I was receiving 50 emails a day. But most copies can invariably be ruled out in seconds.
“The one we found was a former Staffordshire Library book. It was stamped ‘withdrawn from stock’.
“The vendor came across it around 20 years ago at a table top sale.
“Various old books were being sold off and the owner bought a handful for £1 each for the family to read on holiday.
“They weren’t sure if it was a Harry Potter first edition but I soon established it was thanks to some typographical errors that particular version is renowned for.”
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