“Philosopher’s Stone” first edition got for 50p sells for £15,000 at auction

Mar 14, 2022

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

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

That’s quite a return on one’s investment! Of course, someone picking up a bargain book about a boy wizard is probably not thinking of its monetary investment value. My investment in buying and reading the Harry Potter books has paid priceless dividends but I have not received even a single penny from the experience. But a few lucky people who stumbled upon first editions without knowing that their value would rise dramatically have been able to have their treacle tart and eat it too.

The lucky seller of this first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had purchased it for 50p at a charity shop in Manchester. Only 500 copies of the first book were printed in its initial print run as it was not yet known how famous the green-eyed boy with the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead would become. The seller’s child seems to have enjoyed the book as it has doodles inside the hardback covers and throughout.

Is that a mug of Butterbeer in the upper right corner?

Due to its condition, the book was expected to fetch around £3,000 so the seller was reportedly surprised and delighted to find it had sold for £15,000 to a collector from the United States after a bidding war. In contrast, another first edition in pristine condition, sold at the same time, fetched £69,000. The seller of the copy was quite shrewd: After purchasing the book for his daughter, he began to hear the buzz that preceded the book’s stratospheric rise in popularity. He forbid his daughter from touching that copy and bought her another one for reading use. He then carefully stored the pristine book away for 25 years.

Pristine copy stored carefully for 25 years.

Leaky has reported on a fair few auctions of Harry Potter first editions, some of which set records. I am now wondering if all 500 first editions of Philosopher’s Stone have been accounted for. Is anyone keeping a list? Have they all been sold by their original purchasers or are there any still tucked away in bookshelves and boxes, the owners unaware of their potential windfall?

Do you have a first edition Harry Potter book? Would you keep it or sell it if you did?

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.