Harry Potter first edition found in bargain bin sells for $69,000 at auction

A first edition copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” printed in 1997, sold for more than £55,000 — about $69,000 — on Monday, according to Hansons Auctioneers.

The 58-year-old seller bought the hardcover copy for £10 — between $12 and $13 — after she spotted it in a bargain bucket in a shop in the Scottish Highlands 26 years ago. Just 500 copies were printed in the first run of hardbacks, with 300 going to schools and libraries and 200 going out to bookshops, Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer said.

“This was a genuine, honest first issue and a fantastically well-preserved example,” said Spencer. “It was fresh to market and it deserved to go full steam like the Hogwarts Express.”

The unidentified seller learned about Harry Potter after reading one of J. K. Rowling’s first interviews, according to the auction house. 

“I bought the Harry Potter book before anyone really knew much about it, or the author,” she said in a Hansons Auctioneers news release. “I found it during a family caravan trip touring ’round the highlands of Scotland.”

She even got a couple of pounds — about $2 — knocked off the price because the book had no dust jacket. The mom said her children enjoyed the book as a bedtime story throughout their vacation. 

Years ago, her children read something online about identifying first editions. They told her they thought they had one.

“But I said the edition was worthless due to it having no dust jacket. Some time later I learned the book was never released with a dust jacket,” the mom said. “At that point, we stored the book away. It lived like the young Harry Potter did, in the cupboard under the stairs.”

She forgot it there for a while before contacting Spencer at Hansons.

“My children are grown up now and I thought it was time for someone else to have the pleasure of owning a rare piece of literary history,” the mom said.

It was sold for £55,104 to a private UK online buyer. Other first edition copies of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” have sold at auction for between £17,500 and £69,000, plus buyer’s premium, depending on their condition.

“Most examples are quite badly worn, especially ex-library copies,” Hanson said. “They’ve often been shared among friends and carried around in school rucksacks, which in some ways is lovely, capturing the buzz of Harry Potter when it first gained popularity. However, more traditional collectors are incredibly fussy about condition, which helped this book fulfill its potential.”

The book, which was re-titled “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for American audiences, was published by Scholastic in the U.S. in 1998, with an initial printing of 50,000 copies. 

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