Given the massive success of the Harry Potter books, it’s hard to believe that the first run of prints were only numbered at 500, and were largely distributed to libraries upon The Philosopher’s Stone’s publication in 1997. Following the massive boom in popularity, these rare first editions now fetch a high price, as proven by the fact a copy bought for just 30p has sold at auction for over £10,000.
After the original collector of the rare edition passed away earlier this year, his family found the book and put it up for auction via Richard Winterton Auctioneers, with the winning bid coming from a bidder in Los Angeles, USA. “We’re absolutely delighted with this result,” said Winterton.
The family was aware their loved one had a copy of the book, as he had been an avid reader, but the exact location of the novel was unknown, as it had been moved into storage along with hundreds of other books when the owner moved house. The owner passed away suddenly earlier this year at the age of 55 and his sister, who asked the BBC not to be identified, said: “We knew that he had got the book but if you asked him to pinpoint it he couldn’t.”
The initial run of first editions of The Philosopher’s Stone are unique not just because they are the first in hundreds of millions of Harry Potter books to be published, but also because they contain an error that has been corrected in later editions. On page 53, you’ll find a list of items Harry needs before he begins his studies at Hogwarts. The list begins and ends with “1 wand”, when it should only appear once. If you think you have a first edition, this is a good way to begin making sure!