UPDATED: First editions of “Philosopher’s Stone” found in skip go up for auction

May 08, 2020

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

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

UPDATE: The auction took place on 21 May. The hardback sold for £33,000 and the paperbacks for  £3,400 and £3,000. Remember, there were only 500 hardback first editions, which makes them quite rare and valuable. Hansons Auctioneers refers to them as “the Holy Grail” for collectors. According to this BBC article, the seller said, “To say I’m pleased is an understatement.” No word on who bought them, except the hardback was said to have sold to a “private UK buyer” after “a tense auction battle.”

There were only 500 hardback first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone printed upon the book’s release in 1997.  300 of them went to schools and libraries, leaving only 200 for sale in British book shops. Twelve years ago, when freshening up their library for a pending inspection, a school in Buckinghamshire tossed three copies of Philosopher’s Stone, two paperback, one hardback, into a skip. They were well-worn from much perusal by students, and the school wanted their library to look shiny and new for the inspectors. Needless to say, they were unaware that first editions such as the ones they were discarding were selling for thousands of pounds at auction to wealthy collectors.

Luckily, a teacher saw them and fished them out of the skip. She didn’t know of their value either, but thought “it just seemed awful to throw them away.” They remained in her loft until her son looked into their possible value. After hearing about how much first editions are selling for at auction, the owner has decided to sell all three books via Hansons Auctioneers in Staffordshire, who have handled the sale of previous Harry Potter books. The online-only auction will take place on 21 May. There is speculation that the hardback could sell for between £8,000 and £12,000, and the paperbacks could fetch £2,000 – £3,000 piece.

Leaky has covered previous auctions of Harry Potter books and unique handwritten memorabilia. Are you a collector? Have you purchased any Harry Potter collectibles at auction? Tell us about your finds in the comments.

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.