Same Book Draws Different Results

Friday 18th March 2022 - Cara Bentham


Same Book Draws Different Results

Two First Editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Sell for Very Different Prices in the Same Auction

A tatty first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold for a respectable £15,500 at auction this week. The book, which was covered in charming children's doodles of the beloved characters, was discovered in a box and bought for just 50p at a charity shop in Manchester several months ago.

The owner then took it to Hansons Auctions, where they found it was a rare first edition of the iconic debut novel by JK Rowling.

Due to the book's condition, it was estimated to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000, much less than some, better condition, first edition copies of the title have achieved. Following a bidding war, the book completely smashed its high estimate when it sold for more than five times the amount expected.

In the same auction, a pristine copy of the famous book sold for a staggering £69,000. This immaculate copy had been kept by its owner for 25 years after purchasing it for £12.99 back in 1997.

The Manchester businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was not disappointed at the selling price. The businessman said, "I just spotted the back cover with the image of the wizard and thought it looked interesting. It was only 50p. I found it in one of those traditional charity shops packed with boxes. Around Christmas time, I decided to contact Hansons Auctioneers to check whether it was a first edition. They confirmed that it was – a nice surprise to say the least."

The other copy, which was sold in the same auction by Hansons Auctioneers this Wednesday and fetched a far higher price, had been kept by its owner in Sussex for over two decades. The retired paper merchant, aged 68, had been unsure whether the copy held the same value as others because it was missing the dust jacket. In fact, he almost returned it to the bookstore he purchased it from back in 1997 for this reason. Being a collector, he was disappointed that the book didn't have a dust jacket and assumed this would affect its potential value down the line.

He said, "I decided to keep the book on the toss of a coin. It was a moment of destiny. I remember standing in the doorway debating whether to keep it." Luckily, he decided to keep the book and stored it in darkness for years to preserve the paper, which he noted was "poor quality".

Only 500 copies of the hardback first edition Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone were ever printed, many of which have suffered wear and tear over the years. Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said of this copy, "It could well be the most pristine hardback first issue of Philosopher's Stone ever offered at auction."

Before the auction, book expert Jim Spencer said of the two very different copies of the book, "In essence, we have two first issue hardbacks – one carefully preserved and unread, the other thoroughly enjoyed and read to death. When it comes to condition, we're looking at two very different books. One is like new, as good as it gets. The other has been read until it broke, enjoyed countless times, even joyfully illustrated by its young fan. I suppose it's a lesson in what not to do with a Harry Potter first edition – don't scribble all over it then give it away."

However, Charles Hanson commented of the tatty copy, "What a battle for the battered and bruised Harry Potter! In my opinion, it deserves to be in a museum. Those doodles, penned by a child who loved the book and its characters, encapsulate the power of the Potter phenomenon. It really is quite charming."