A Harry Potter first edition kept in pristine condition for 25 years after its owner nearly returned it to a bookstore is set to sell for a record-breaking £100,000 at auction.
But its owner almost let the valuable book slip through his fingers when he nearly returned it to get his £12.99 back because it didn’t have a dust jacket.
The seller, a retired paper merchant director from West Sussex. Said he ordered the book almost three decades ago from Leatherhead Bookworm in Surrey.
And he revealed that he almost asked for his money back because he believed it had a fatal flaw and that he only kept it “on the flip of a coin.”
“It didn’t have a dust jacket, and I thought it should,” the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. I’m a collector, and I expected one since it’s the first edition.
“On the flip of a coin, I decided to keep the book. “It was a fateful moment.”
Years later, he discovered that the first hardback editions of Philosopher’s Stone did not include a dust jacket.
“Leatherhead Bookworm, one of those magical old book shops, no longer exists,” he continued, “but I still hear from the man who sold me the book.”
“He likes to remind me that I almost got my money back because it lacked a slipcover. I recall standing in the doorway, contemplating whether or not to keep it.
“In 1997, I purchased the first issue of Philosopher’s Stone after seeing an advertisement for it in a magazine called Bookseller.” It compared JK Rowling’s novel to the Famous Five and predicted winning a prize.”
When I was a younger, I used to love reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books – and I preferred them to come with a dust jacket. I took great care of it. It’s in near-perfect condition. It hasn’t been read yet.
“My daughter asked if she could read it a year after I bought it, as Harry Potter fever grew at her school. No way, no how.
“Instead, I bought her another copy of Harry Potter and a later edition of The Chamber of Secrets. Both in the Harry Potter Gift Set slipcase.” By that point, I’d also acquired a mint first edition of Chamber of Secrets, which I’m also auctioning.
In my forties, I began to collect books. I worked for a paper company and socialized with people from the literary community.
“I noticed Philosopher’s Stone’s first editions were selling well at auction in recent years. But I didn’t think mine could achieve those prices because it didn’t have a dust jacket.”
“I eventually realized that there was no mention of a dust jacket. Now that I’ve reached the age where it would be beneficial to pay off my mortgage, I’ve decided to sell.
“It is difficult to let go. Collectors find it difficult to sell their prized possessions.”
Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire, will sell the replica on March 9 for an estimated £40,000 to £60,000.
“The owner traveled a long distance to see me,” said Jim Spencer of Hansons’ books. We sat down and got comfortable, but I was hesitant to take off the book’s jacket.
“Every day, I get dozens of Potter inquiries, but this one had piqued my interest, so I hoped it was correct.
“My only apprehension was that it was too good to be true. I scrutinized the book, comparing it to two other first editions of the same work, using a magnifying glass to study the covers and text.
“Everything came together flawlessly. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if I had been taken back to 1997.”
Jim has acquired and sold 14 hardcover first editions of Philosopher’s Stone. With prices ranging from £17,000 to more than £60,000 depending on condition.
A near-perfect hardback first edition of Philosopher’s Stone sold for $471,000 (£349,186) in December 2021 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, outbidding the $70,000 estimate.
It is the most money ever spent for the boy wizard’s debut in any form. And it sets a modern literature world record.
“It would be incredible to beat the price achieved in America with this near-perfect. As-good-as-new Potter first edition,” said Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers. Our estimate is £40,000-£60,000, roughly the same as the estimate placed on the book sold in Dallas.