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Very 1st print version of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” sold at auction for more than $13,000

The “very first appearance in print” of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was bought for less than a dollar more than a quarter-century ago. This week, it was sold in an auction for thousands. 

Hansons Auctioneers said that an uncorrected copy proof of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” – a version so raw and unedited it even had Rowling’s name misspelled as J.A. Rowling on the title page – was sold to a private buyer in the U.K. on Monday at a hammer price of 11,000 pounds, nearly $14,000. 

An uncorrected proof copy of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was auctioned for nearly $14,000 this week, years after being accidentally purchased for less than a dollar. 

Hansons Auctioneers

The copy of the book was originally purchased for 40 pence, about 50 cents, in 1997 when it was a “‘throw-in’ with a couple of other books,” Hansons said. The now-52-year-old woman, who purchased the book when she was just 26, “didn’t even particularly notice she’d bought it at the time,” according to the auctioneer group. 

“I didn’t have much money but I always liked to treat myself to a browse round second-hand bookshops on Saturday mornings,” the seller said, adding that she had popped into one of those shops looking for books by Agatha Christie. “… The Harry Potter book was among the piles – maybe even by accident – as all the rest were Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, etc., as far as I remember. I bought it as a throw-in with a couple of other titles – 40p for all three. I don’t think I even looked at it properly, to tell the truth.” 

That book, later known in the U.S. as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” launched the world to Harry Potter fandom, telling the story of a young orphan who discovers he’s a famous wizard as he embarks on a journey to stop the rise of villain Lord Voldemort. 

The uncorrected proof copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was sold for nearly $14,000 – with J.K. Rowling’s name misspelled on the title page. 

Hansons Auctioneers

The auctioned copy of the book, much like the story itself, followed the seller across the world – from China to the U.K. and Italy – “being packed and unpacked – without being read,” she said. 

“It ended up stuck behind a shelf in my bedroom until, for no good reason again other than the fact my kids were turning into Harry Potter fans, I went looking for it. Even the kids haven’t read it – there are four of them aged from 12 to 25. They always unfortunately – or fortunately in this case – preferred the films,” she said.

Then she discovered many of the Harry Potter books were being sold at “incredible prices,” and reached out to Hansons’ Potter expert Jim Spencer to see if it was worth anything – and it was, as she said, “a massive piece of well-timed luck.” 

Spencer said that this copy of the debut novel “is where the Harry Potter phenomenon began.” 

“This is the very first appearance in print of the first Potter novel,” Spencer said. “… The author’s signing tours, the midnight queues outside bookshops, the movies, the merchandise – it all stems from this. … A touch of Potter magic perhaps.”

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