It could be said that it’s where the magic and witchcraft began.
The humble chair JK Rowling sat on while writing the first two books of the Harry Potter series is going on the auction block in New York City on 6 April with an opening bid of 45,000 US dollars (£31,500).
It’s an ordinary-looking chair but magical in that Rowling placed “this unassuming 1930s-era oak chair with a replacement burlap seat decorated with a red thistle ... in front of her typewriter and went about writing two of the most important books of the modern era,” said James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions.
It was one of four mismatched chairs given to the then starving artist for her flat in Edinburgh, Scotland, and which she used while writing “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
The chair was auctioned before - once by Rowling herself to benefit a charity in 2002 where it fetched 21,000 US dollars (£14,700), and on eBay in 2009 where it brought 29,000 US dollars (£20,300).
Before Rowling donated the chair to the “Chair-rish a Child” auction in support of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 2002, she painted the words “You may not/find me pretty/but don’t judge/on what you see” on the stiles and splats. She also signed the backrest in gold and rose colors and wrote “I wrote/Harry Potter/while sitting/on this chair” on the seat.
The word “Gryffindor,” the Hogwarts house of Harry, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, is spelled out on a cross stretcher.
The chair is accompanied by an original typed and signed letter Rowling wrote prior to the first auction.
It reads: “Dear new-owner-of-my-chair. I was given four mismatched dining room chairs in 1995 and this was the comfiest one, which is why it ended up stationed permanently in front of my typewriter, supporting me while I typed out `Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and `Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’. My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t. J. K. Rowling.”
The first book was released in the United States in 1998 with the title “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Heritage said the current seller was an English collector who wished to remain anonymous.
“The characters that Rowling created are the super heroes of the millennials as Batman and Superman were for the Sixties,” said Rick Rounick, owner of the Soho Contemporary Art gallery, which specializes in pop culture. “The chair that Rowling claims gave her the magic to create the world of Harry Potter is a singularly significant object of her art and creative energy.”
Muggles can get a look at the Harry Potter memorabilia in the window of Heritage’s Park Avenue gallery beginning Friday. There will be no Sorting Hat to magically determine who’ll wind up with the chair but potential buyers can bid online beginning 18 March. The live auction is 6 April.