A bargain bucket treasure: How a rare Harry Potter book found in the Highlands could fetch £60,000

A hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, bought for a few pennies from a bargain bucket in the Scottish Highlands, is expected to sell for up to £60,000 at auction. The book is one of only 500 first edition copies printed by Bloomsbury in 1997, and one of only 300 that were sent to libraries and schools.

The lucky find

The book was discovered by a buyer who visited a bookshop in the Highlands in the late 1990s. The book had no jacket and was in a poor condition, but the buyer recognized its potential value and bought it for a nominal sum. The book has a library identification sticker, a spine sticker with the letter J, a withdrawal stamp, and a 30p selling price.

The buyer kept the book for over two decades, until he decided to sell it through Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The auction house appraised the book at £3,000 to £5,000, but the bidding war drove the price up to £10,500. The winning bid came from an online bidder in Los Angeles, who is now the proud owner of a rare piece of literary history.

The magic of the first edition

The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is one of the most sought-after books in the world, as it marks the debut of JK Rowling’s beloved wizarding world. The book introduces the characters of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as well as the villainous Lord Voldemort.

A bargain bucket treasure

The first edition has some distinctive features that distinguish it from later editions. For example, the author’s name is spelled as “Joanne Rowling” on the title page, and there is a misprint on page 53, where the phrase “1 wand” is repeated twice in the list of items that Harry needs for school. The book also has a number line on the copyright page that reads “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”.

The first edition is extremely rare, as only 500 copies were printed in the first run. Of those, only 300 were distributed to libraries and schools, where they were likely to be worn out or discarded. The remaining 200 copies were sold to bookshops or private collectors. According to the auction house, only 50 copies of the first edition are known to exist in private hands.

The soaring value of Harry Potter books

The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is not the only Harry Potter book that has fetched a high price at auction. In 2019, a signed copy of the same book sold for £118,812 at Bonhams in London. The book was inscribed by JK Rowling to a friend and her family, who had encouraged her to finish the manuscript.

In 2020, a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, also signed by JK Rowling, sold for £75,000 at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire. The book was one of only 500 hardback copies of the first edition, and it had a personal dedication from the author to the owner.

Other Harry Potter books that have sold for high prices include a handwritten and illustrated copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which sold for £1.95 million at Sotheby’s in 2007, and a first edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which sold for £60,000 at Hansons Auctioneers in 2018.

The popularity and value of Harry Potter books show no signs of waning, as the series continues to enchant readers of all ages around the world. The books have sold over 500 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 80 languages. The books have also inspired a successful film franchise, a stage play, a theme park, and a global fan community.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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