93 words about “Order of the Phoenix” up for auction again

Dec 10, 2019

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

Charity, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling, News

Remember the interminable wait between the release of each Harry Potter book? How desperate we were for the slightest hint from J.K. Rowling about what was coming next?  Whose side was Snape on?  Was Harry a Horcrux?  Would he have to die at the end to save the world from Voldemort and his followers?  Would Hermione and Ron ever get together?  We had endless queries, and fans world-wide pelted Rowling with owls, hoping for answers.  She remained tight-lipped, knowing better than to give anything away.  But she did let slip a few tantalising clues that raised more questions than they answered.  Memorable amongst these was the 2002 Sotheby’s auction of a card titled “Edinburgh 2002: Things I can tell you about ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'”, signed by Rowling, that listed 93 random words from the then forthcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  The card featured the book title and Rowling’s signature in the centre, with the words fanned around it in a spiral pattern.  A few words were shown in the auction lot photo, such as “sorry” and “sacked”, with Sotheby’s eventually releasing 14 of them before bidding closed.  The auction was to benefit Book Aid International.

We’re revisiting this story today because that card is up for auction again at Sotheby’s.  Bidding closes at 7am UK time on December 10, 2019.  So far, there are three bids, the highest at £5,000. [UPDATE: It sold for £10,000.]

When the card was auctioned in 2002, The Leaky Cauldron wanted desperately to mount a successful bid and share the 93 words with our readers.  Our webmistress, Melissa Anelli, quickly incorporated Leaky as a non-profit so we could solicit donations from our readers.  Over 1500 donations arrived so quickly we must have exhausted the nation’s delivery owls.  The final amount was a staggering $24,000, which Leaky intended to bid for the card.  Leaky’s fundraising efforts received considerable press coverage, including this piece in the New York Times, as well as an AP wire story, and features on Newsday, U.S News, CNN, MSNBC, E!, and FOX.  To avoid being outbid, Leaky was careful not to reveal the amount of money raised as the total grew.

In the end, the card sold for $38,000 and Leaky donated all money received to Book Aid International, nearly doubling what they received from the auction proceeds.  From the Harry Potter Alliance to The Protego Foundation, from Transfiguring Adoption to The Potterhead Running Club, and beyond, Harry Potter fans have taken the series’ messages about making the world a better place to heart and donated time, money, and talent to a growing variety of charitable efforts worldwide.  As Melissa said of the 2002 fundraising effort, “I think you all know by now that this is beyond what’s on that card – while we would love and cannot wait to see what’s on it, this has turned into this fandom making a huge contribution to society as one, and it’s so inspiring.”

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.