Philosopher’s Stone first edition sells for £56K

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Jul 04, 2018

Posted by: Amanda Kirk | Comments

Bloomsbury, Books, Harry Potter and the Philosophers / Sorcerers Stone, News

Leaping liquorice wands, that’s a lot of galleons!

A first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was recently snapped up by an American collector for £56,250 at Bonhams auction house in London.  The hardcover book, published by Bloomsbury in 1997, was purchased, appropriately enough, by an 11-year-old schoolgirl at Harrowgate railway station in North Yorkshire.  She has chosen to remain anonymous, so we don’t know why she opted to auction her book off 21 years later, but she has instantly made more money than most people earn in a year.  The original cover price of the book was £10.99, so that’s quite a return on her inadvertent investment.

The first edition comprised a run of only 500 copies.  Whilst the cover lists J.K. Rowling as the author, the title page gives her name as Joanne Rowling.  This was changed to J.K. Rowling in subsequent editions, and numerous spelling errors throughout the book were corrected.  The first edition also listed “1 wand” twice on Harry’s shopping list for Diagon Alley.

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Nearly a year ago, in September 2017, another first edition sold for $81,250 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.  That was a record for a work of fiction not personally signed by the author.  A new world record for a signed first edition was set two months later at Bonhams when a copy of the same book inscribed “For Meera, Donnie, Nastassia and Kai, with lots of love from Jo (also known as J.K. Rowling)” sold for £106,250.

Speculators began buying Harry Potter first editions in the late 90s in hopes that they would increase in value.  Rare book dealers and auction houses often have first editions for sale.  Value depends upon the condition of the book, whether it is signed by the author, and the impression.  The first impression of the first edition is the most valuable.  If the print details page has numbers at the bottom that read 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, you have a first impression of a first edition.  Subsequent impressions of a first edition are not as valuable, and prices drop precipitously after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which is by far the most in demand by collectors and had the smallest print runs.  As the popularity of the series increased with each book, the print runs became larger.  First editions/impressions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban have some value but do not command the stratospheric prices that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has garnered.  By the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released, the series was so popular that the first print run was one million copies.  First editions of the later books in the series don’t usually have monetary value unless they are signed.

Do you have a valuable Harry Potter book in your collection?  Tell us about it in the comments.


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The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.