First edition Harry Potter book sells for £60k - here's how to tell if you have one

A rare, first-edition Harry Potter book sold at auction for a record-breaking £60,000 - more than 5,000 times its original £10.99 price tag.

Thursday, 21st September 2017, 10:27 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:24 am
A rare, first-edition Harry Potter book

The 223-page novel is one of just 500 original copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first instalment in the iconic fiction series.

Published by Bloomsbury in 1997, it was was purchased for £10.99 and kept in pristine condition in a private collection in the UK.

But spellbound bidders in the US last week propelled the final hammer price to $81,250 (£60,211) - more than 5,000 times its original price tag.

The book more than quadrupled its pre-auction estimate and set the world record for the highest price paid for an unsigned work of fiction published in the last 50 years.

The previous record was held by a copy of the same book which sold for £43,750 last year - just 75 per cent of the price reached last week.

Rare Books director at Heritage Auctions James Gannon said he was surprised by the record-breaking hammer price.

He said: “We have sold great Harry Potter titles in the past, but we never really paid attention to such a thing as a world record.

“This recent copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone surpassed the earlier record of approximately $60,000 by more than 30 per cent.

“It very well may be the highest price obtained at auction for any unsigned work of literature published in the past 50 years.”

He added that there was a high volume of online bids before the sale at an auction house in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday.

“The book was an exceptionally nice copy. It had really been taken care of. It was bought in the UK 18 years ago and had been with one collector since.

“Only 500 or so copies of the first book were printed and of those, 300 are believed to have gone into lending libraries.

“Usually an exhibited book is less collectible, so there were far fewer of those available to stay in pristine condition.

“There is a huge group of people searching for one for their collection and it is really a phenomenon rather just a book.

“It has all the weight of J.K. Rowling’s celebrity behind it.”

In 2009, a signed first-edition copy of the same book was sold by Heritage Auctions for $19,000.

How to tell if your Harry Potter book is a ‘first edition’

1. The publisher must be listed as Bloomsbury on the title page (at the bottom)

2. The LATEST date listed in the copyright information must by 1997

3. The print line on the copyright page must read “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”

4. There is a mistake on page page 53, ‘1 wand’ appears twice in the list of school supplies Harry receives from Hogwarts. This error was corrected in later print runs.