First edition Potter book unearthed by Derbyshire auctioneer may make £30,000

A rare Harry Potter first edition given to a family more than 20 years ago has turned into the most valuable present they have ever received.
Jim Spencer at Hansons Auctioneers with the Harry Potter first edition.Jim Spencer at Hansons Auctioneers with the Harry Potter first edition.
Jim Spencer at Hansons Auctioneers with the Harry Potter first edition.

But it could have been a soggy story. Two decades ago, the children, then aged seven and four, liked to read in the bath.

When they recently discovered the family’s hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was one of only 500 in the first print-run in 1997, they were relieved they’d never dropped it in the water.

The seller, a 68-year-old retired civil servant, said: “The book was a present. As it turns out, it is the most valuable present we have ever been given.

“It could have had a different kind of adventure, though, because our children like to read in the bath and when our son heard our copy was a first edition, he said he was glad he had never dropped it in the bathwater. They don’t get that habit from their dad I hasten to add."

The books are so sought after they can sell for tens of thousands of pounds at auction and this copy is expected to stir international interest when it goes under the hammer at Derbyshire auctioneer Hansons on March 16 with an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000.

It’s the ninth Philosopher’s Stone hardback copy Hansons has unearthed in a magical 18 months and hammer prices have ranged from £17,500 to £68,000, dependant on condition.

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons’ library department, said: “Finding another first issue hardback of the 500 originally published is really special.

"I’m honoured to be handling these, and I share the excitement of every vendor. I receive hundreds of emails and calls from hopeful owners of Harry Potters all over the world, so it’s a little tougher having to let most people down gently – but I check every enquiry, respond to every person, because it’s like panning for gold.

“When it was given as gift all those years ago no-one knew Harry Potter would turn into a worldwide phenomenon.

"The buyer unwittingly purchased a first edition, destined to be worth thousands of pounds decades later, as a gift.

"It’s lovely for the family. They had no idea their bookshelf contained something so special until recently.”

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