Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling - 1997 first edition first impression published by Bloomsbury, sold £10,500 July 7 2023

30p Harry Potter library book sells for £10,500 at Lichfield auction

AN ultra-rare Harry Potter book has sold at auction in Staffordshire for a hammer price of £10,500.

Bought for 30p after being withdrawn from Wolverhampton Library, the hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone went under the hammer with Richard Winterton Auctioneers at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, on Monday, July 10.

Published by Bloomsbury in 1997 with a laminated board cover, the book is one of only 500 first edition first impressions and, of those, one of only 300 sent to libraries.

The sale attracted international interest, with the winning bid placed over the internet from Los Angeles.

The book was estimated at £3,000 to £5,000 due to its ‘much-loved condition’ as an ex-library book.

Auctioneer Richard Winterton says it will be a magical moment when the rare Harry Potter book goes under the hammer in Lichfield.
Auctioneer Richard Winterton with the rare Harry Potter book.

Auctioneer Richard Winterton said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this result.

“The first in the original series of books by JK Rowling, this copy has clearly been well-read and still has its library identification sticker, spine sticker with the letter J, withdrawal stamp and 30p selling price.”

The book was part of the personal collection of a Staffordshire man who had a lifelong passion for books and ephemera.

He lived in Brereton, Rugeley, for a number of years before latterly moving to Chase Terrace, Burntwood, and passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of the year aged 55.

Auctioneers discovered the book after a painstaking search of hundreds of boxes of his belongings.

On the back cover of the first edition, an o is missing from the word Philosopher’s.
On the back cover of the first edition, an o is missing from the word Philosopher’s.

The man’s sister, who asked not to be named, said before the sale: “He started dealing in books and memorabilia when he was still at school.

“He would go to jumble sales and church fairs and would come back with a pile of annuals or comics.

“He would then take them to a second-hand shop in Hednesford to sell or take them in to school to swap with friends.

“That was his passion from an early age onwards.”

The family knew that he had acquired a valuable Harry Potter book but feared it had gone astray.

The book still bears its library identification on the title page.
The book still bears its library identification on the title page.

“When he moved house four years ago he literally put everything into hundreds of boxes, many of which went into containers,” his sister added.

“We knew that he had got the book but if you asked him to pinpoint it he couldn’t.

“So for the last four years this book has been ‘lost’ and I think we had come to the conclusion that it had disappeared into the ether somewhere.”

Richard Winterton Auctioneers offers free valuations of all types of antiques and collectables at the Fradley Park saleroom by appointment every Thursday.

For information on auctions, to book valuations or to discuss house clearances and large collections, telephone 01543 251081 or email office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

Identifying a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

First, check that the publisher is Bloomsbury and the latest date listed in the copyright information is 1997.

The print line on the copyright page must read “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”.

The rarest of the first printings is the hardback issue, with a cover of laminated boards. Only 500 copies were bound this way, 300 of which were sent to libraries.

Examine the back cover – there should be an ‘o’ missing from the word Philosopher’s.

In the first edition, page 53 features a list of school supplies Harry receives from Hogwarts. The item ‘1 wand’ appears twice, once at the beginning and once at the end. This mistake was corrected in the second printing – although curiously it did reappear in some later printings.

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