Rare first-edition Harry Potter book could raise £100,000 at Derbyshire auction house

A pristine first-edition Harry Potter book will come under the hammer of a Derbyshire auctioneer who hopes to set a UK record with the winning bid.

Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 3:46 pm

Experts predict that the hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, one of only 500 ever printed, could reach £100,000 when it is auctioned on March 9.

That’s some way behind the record amount paid at an auction in Dallas, Texas, at the end of last year, when a near pristine copy raised $471,000 (£349,186).

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “It would be amazing to beat the price achieved in America with this near perfect, as-good-as-new Potter first edition. Our guide price is £40,000-£60,000, roughly the same as the estimate put on the book sold in Dallas. I’d like to think our copy could achieve £100,000 – or, better still, smash the world record. Let’s hope we can achieve a new world-record price in Britain, the place where the Potter phenomenon was born.”

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Jim Spencer, head of books at Hansons Auctioneers, with the pristine first-edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

The dream book’s seller, who wishes to remain anonymous, very nearly let the prized publication slip through his fingers. He contemplated returning his copy to the shop where he bought it from and asking for his money back – £12.99 – because he thought it had a flaw.

“It didn’t have a dust jacket and I thought it should,” said the seller, who pre-ordered the book from Leatherhead Bookworm in Surrey in 1997. “I was really disappointed when I went to pick it up. I’m a collector and, being a first edition, I expected it to have one. I decided to keep the book on the toss of a coin. It was a moment of destiny.”

Years later he discovered that Philosopher’s Stone hardback first issues don’t come with a dust jacket – so his copy was as good as it possibly could be.

The retired paper merchant director, 68, from West Sussex, said: “Leatherhead Bookworm, one of those magical old books shops, no longer exists but I still hear from the man who sold me the book. He likes to remind me that I nearly had my money back just because it didn’t have a slip cover. I remember standing in the doorway debating whether to keep it.

Jim Spencer, head of books at Hansons Auctioneers, with the pristine first-edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

“I took it home and tucked it away in darkness on a high book shelf to keep it from prying eyes but, more importantly, because the paper in the book is poor quality. I was told to keep it away from sunlight to prevent it going brown.

“I’ve really looked after it. It’s in the best condition it possibly can be – almost perfect I would say. It’s never been read. A year after I bought it, with Harry Potter excitement growing at my daughter’s school, she asked if she could read it. I said no, absolutely not.

“Instead, I bought her another copy and a later issue of The Chamber of Secrets – both in the Harry Potter Gift Set slipcase. By that time, I’d also acquired a mint first issue of Chamber of Secrets, which I am also auctioning.

“My daughter’s copy of Philosopher’s Stone was a fourth issue – with a dust jacket. So, I put that on my first edition to protect it and tucked it away together with my Chamber of Secrets first edition, also protected by the slipcase. They have always been kept separate from my main books collection and hidden in the house.

"Now I’ve reached the time of life when it would be useful to pay off the mortgage so I’ve decided to sell. It’s not easy to part with. Collectors have difficulty selling their prized possessions.”

Hansons head of books Jim Spencer has sourced and sold 14 hardback first issues of Philosopher’s Stone to date with prices achieved ranging from £17,000 to more than £60,000 dependant on condition.

Jim said: “I receive countless Potter enquiries every single day, but this one had grabbed me and I hoped it would be right.

“My only fear was that it was too good to be true. I inspected the book closely, again and again, comparing it with two other first issues of the same work, studying the covers and text with a magnifying glass. Everything added up perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. It was like stepping back in time to 1997.”

The Harry Potter hardback first editions will be offered as one lot in Hansons Auctioneers’ Library Auction on March 9, estimate £40,000-£60,000. Catalogue due live March 2. To find out more, email [email protected]