First-edition Harry Potter book bought for 50p could sell for £50,000 at auction

Laura Hampson
·4 min read
Jim Spencer, of Hansons Auctioneers, has discovered 13 first edition Harry Potter books in the last 21 months (SWNS)
Jim Spencer, of Hansons Auctioneers, has discovered 13 first-edition Harry Potter books in the last 21 months (SWNS)

A Harry Potter book picked up in a bargain bin in 1998 is set to sell for £50,000 at the “world’s first” Harry Potter auction.

The sale will see rare first-edition books and film set souvenirs among the items which could fetch up to £200,000 when they are sold at Hansons Auctioneers, in the first sale of its kind dedicated to JK Rowling's wizarding world.

Five first-edition Philosopher's Stone hardbacks, of which only 500 were ever printed, could make up to £50,000 each. Five first editions of the paperback version could also sell for between £1,000 and £5,000 per copy in the auction to be held next month.

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The sale features movie set memorabilia including four taxidermy specimens of snakes and lizards. The props, hired by Warner Bros for the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in 2001, have a guide price of £10,000.

Jim Spencer, associate director at Hansons, has discovered 13 first-edition Harry Potter books in the last 21 months.

First edition Harry Potter hardbacks (SWNS)
First edition Harry Potter hardbacks (SWNS)

“My head is spinning with rare Harry Potter books and memorabilia,” Spencer said.

“It’s like panning for gold - I have to spot the glimmering specks among the grainy words or images coming through to my screen. Those nuggets of gold are all the more exciting when I find them.

“The first-issue hardback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published by Bloomsbury in 1997, marks the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Of the 500 copies printed, 300 were sent to schools and libraries and 200 to shops.

"The five in this sale have guide prices ranging from £10,000 to £50,000 each, depending on condition. One was purchased in 1998 for just 50p, from a book shop sale bin during a holiday in Scotland. The parents inscribed it, 'To Katie, on our holiday in Clachtoll 1998. Love from Mum & Dad’."

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The vendor of that book, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The Philosopher’s Stone was purchased when our three children were quite young.

“We used to go on holiday to a campsite in Clachtoll in the North West Highlands of Scotland and bedtime reading was meant to be exciting after what may have been a typical dreich summer's day.

“This book was bought at Achins, the most remote bookshop in mainland Scotland, on a wet and windy day, from the sale bin for 50p, which perhaps reflected the slow initial uptake. The girls are now aged 27, 29 and 30 and are, thankfully, still regular visitors to the west coast and Highlands. Hopefully one day they will introduce their children to Harry Potter on those stormy west coast days.”

Signed editions of Harry Potter (SWNS)
Signed editions of Harry Potter (SWNS)

Potterheads can also bid on items from Matthew LaCroix, who famously wrote a fan letter to JK Rowling later used on the dust-jacket of the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

There are also two first editions of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix signed by the cast of children from the film, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who played Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Daniel Radcliffe has inscribed each one, 'Magic Rules OK!' and 'Magic Rocks!'.

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A first edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that sparked a theft and blackmail case involving armed police is also up for grabs. Six weeks before the eagerly-anticipated publication of the penultimate novel in the Harry Potter series, two copies of the book were stolen in Northamptonshire.

An attempt was made to obtain money from two national newspapers by revealing the novel’s secrets. A journalist involved tried to flee with the books, but the perpetrator fired an imitation Walther PPK pistol in their direction and was arrested by armed police.

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An attempt was also made to blackmail publishers Bloomsbury by revealing the book’s contents. The vendor, an anonymous retired police officer, was given the book as a gift for his hard work on the case.

The online-only Hogwarts Harry Potter Auction will take place on 5 May at 2pm, at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge in Staffordshire.

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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