“This Is the Condition I Like to See My Books In”: First-Edition and Signed “Harry Potter” Books on “Antiques Roadshow”

There is a lot of memorabilia that can be collected by Harry Potter fans these days, but some of perhaps the most valuable and wanted pieces are the first-edition books and Potter books that J.K. Rowling herself has signed.

During a recent episode of the BBC’s Antiques RoadshowPotter enthusiast Helen brought in her paperback versions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Both were in pretty poor condition, which was commented on by the presenter Justin Croft, who said they were in the “worst condition” he’s seen on Antiques Roadshow.

The paperback was given one year in my stocking for Christmas, and [I] passed it ’round to my siblings, which is why it’s in the condition that you can see here.


Helen’s “Potter” books brought in on “Antiques Roadshow” (Credit: BBC)


However, what made the books special was that the Chamber of Secrets is a first edition, and both had been signed by Rowling at a signing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scotland, after Chamber of Secrets had been published.

The message written by Rowling in Helen’s version of Philosopher’s Stone reads, “To Helen – This is the condition I like to see my books in! (Read).”


J.K. Rowling’s message in Helen’s “Philosopher’s Stone” book (Credit: BBC)


Croft then went on to give a valuation for the books. Helen was told the battered first book was worth around £1,000 ($1,300) to £1,500 ($1,900), which was “really just for the inscription.” Croft said the Chamber of Secrets, being a first edition without its dust jacket, was worth a shocking £3,000 ($3,800) to £3,500 ($4,400), leaving Helen shocked but very pleased nonetheless.

In other Harry Potter book news, a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is going up for a private auction at Christie’s in London, England. It is among 200 books that are being sold as part of its exhibition The Art of Literature: Loan and Selling, which is open to the public between June 7 and 15.


The copy of “Philosopher’s Stone” being sold at Christie’s auction house (Credit: Christies Auctions)


The book, which is one of the original 500 hardback copies that were printed in the initial run in 1997, is signed by J.K. Rowling. The book does, however, contain some errors, which was discussed by Mark Wiltshire, a specialist in printed books and co-curator of the exhibition.

There were a few things that they seemed to get wrong in the book production. On the back cover, for instance, [‘]Philosophers[‘], which of course is quite a key word… is misspelt ‘philosphers’, that ‘o’, that second ‘o’, is missing. Also, on page 53, in the list of items [that] pupils are asked to take to Hogwarts with them, ‘one wand’ is repeated twice.

Despite these errors, because it is a signed first edition, the auction house is inviting offers at a starting price of £200,000 ($251,000).

Perhaps it’s time you dug into your Potter book collection to discover whether you have a special book that’s worth something. Be sure to check out the advice given by Jim Spencer of Hansons Auctioneers on what exactly to look for in your Potter book to know whether or not it’s the real deal!


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Grace Hurley

I'm an animal-loving Ravenclaw with a Masters Degree in Writing and a passion for the Harry Potter universe since the age of five.