A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that was bought for just £1 at a table top sale today sold for over £35,000.
The lucky vendor, a 54-year-old woman, bought the second hand book 20 years ago when she was looking for some holiday reading.
She didn’t realise it was one of just 500 copies of the initial print run of the first Harry Potter book given to schools and libraries.
The woman, who is not being named, put it in a cupboard after reading it and forgot about it.
A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that was bought for just £1 at a table top sale today sold for over £35,000
It was only recently she realised it was a first edition when she invited auctioneer Jim Spencer to her house in Staffordshire to value three boxes of books she had.
He found the ‘Holy Grail’ of Potter books amongst them after discovering it was a previously withdrawn library book.
On the inside page he found a label reading ‘Staffordshire Libraries Arts and Archives’ with the date of September 19, 1997.
The woman invited auctioneer Jim Spencer to her house in Staffordshire to value three boxes of books she had, including the ‘Holy Grail’ copy of Harry Potter’s first outing
There was also a red stamp that read ‘Staffordshire Library and Information Services. Withdrawn from stock’.
The copy sold for a hammer price of £28,500 at Hansons Auctioneers of Etwall, Derbys.
With fees added on the overall price paid for it was £35,340. It was bought by an anonymous buyer over the phone.
The vendor, an office worker, said she was delighted with the outcome.
She said: ‘I bought the book along with three or four others to read on holiday about 20 years ago.
‘I thought nothing of it at the time. I read the book, in fact I’ve read all the Harry Potter series, and then put it away in a cupboard for years.
‘I decided to get some books valued and invited Jim Spencer over to take a look.
‘I can’t believe that a holiday read could be worth so much money now.’
The first 500 copies of Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone went to schools and libraries all over the UK.
They were later withdrawn when it was realised the first editions contained two typographical errors.
The back page misspells philosopher’s – it reads philospher’s – and on page 53 a list of equipment mentions ‘1 wand’ twice.
One of the inside pages gives the publication date as 1997, and has also been marked with a ‘Staffordshire Library and Information Services. Withdrawn from stock’ sticker on it
Author JK Rowling’s name also appears as Joanne Rowling.
The first editions are so highly sought-after by Potter fans that the world record price for one signed by JK Rowling stands at £68,000.
Mr Spencer, books expert at Hansons, said: ‘I was called to a client’s house near Stafford to value three boxes of books and there it was – the Holy Grail of Harry Potter books.
‘I was so excited. Every book valuer dreams of finding one of these.
‘I was slightly caught in disbelief when I first saw it.
The first edition copy has two noticeable errors to distinguish it. On the backpage ‘philosopher’s’ is misspelt and reads ‘philospher’s’ instead
On page 53 a list of equipment required by wizard student mentions ‘1 wand’ twice
‘It is a former Staffordshire Library book which is stamped “withdrawn from stock”.
‘The vendor came across it around 20 years ago at a table top sale. Various old books were being sold off and the owner bought a handful for £1 each for the family to read on holiday.
‘She wasn’t sure if it was a Harry Potter first edition but I soon established that it was thanks to some typographical errors that particular version is renowned for.
‘When our client bought the book for £1 all those years ago no-one realised what a huge impact the Harry Potter stories would have globally.
‘The majority of the books in that first print run went to schools and libraries. They are extremely rare.
‘This is a landmark in children’s literature, but it appeals to young and old. Everybody knows this book. This is the holy grail for so many collectors.
‘I’m absolutely delighted for our vendor.’