Rare first edition Harry Potter book fetches nearly £70k at auction

A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that belonged to J.K. Rowling’s literary agency, has fetched nearly £70,000 at auction.

By George Mair
Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 4:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 5:03 pm
Author J.K. Rowling attends a photocall.  Picture: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
Author J.K. Rowling attends a photocall. Picture: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

The 1997 children’s classic was the first of Ms Rowling’s novels about the boy wizard and was written largely in cafes in Edinburgh.

The rare first edition hard back - priced £10.99 on the back cover - was one of only 500 produced in the initial print run and belonged to Christopher Little, who was Rowling’s first literary agent.

Little was responsible for selling the rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Bloomsbury in 1996, and continued as her agent until 2011.

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The book, which came with a sticker with Rowling’s signature, was sold at Bonhams’ Rare Books and Manuscript Sale in London, valued at £40,000-60,000.

Bidding for the book started at £25,000 but a bidding battle in the room and on the telephone saw the price fly to a magical £68,812.

It was bought by a private collector in the US, bidding by phone.

Matthew Haley, Bonhams’ head of books, said: “We are delighted. There is always a lot of interest in first editions of this book and this was no exception.

“This was J.K. Rowling’s debut novel and the first the world had ever heard of Harry Potter. It was one of only 500 copies initially produced and this one stands out as it belonged to somebody so closely involved in the publication, Christopher Little, Rowling’s first literary agent.

“Nobody could have predicted how popular Harry Potter would become and of course they had to print huge numbers of reprints.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone introduced millions of readers to the young wizard who discovers his magical heritage after his parents were killed by the evil Lord Voldemort.

Ms Rowling has claimed the book, which scooped most children’s literature awards in the UK, changed her life “forever”.

Rare first edition copies are sought after by collectors around the world.

The 500 copies produced in the first run named the author as “Joanne Rowling” instead of J.K. as in later versions.

They also featured the misspelt “Philospher’s” on the back cover, which was later corrected .

The auction world record for a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is £127,500 ($162,500) set by Christie’s in New York in December 2018.

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