Two First-Edition “Harry Potter” Books Auctioned by Hansons
Two first-edition Harry Potter books went on auction earlier this month at Hansons Auctioneers, and they have been estimated to be worth thousands.
The copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were bought by mom of two Tessa Prince more than 20 years ago, with the hope that the books would encourage her sons to read.
Her husband, Alan Prince, discussed how they came about buying the two books:
Our sons were aged 10 and eight in 1997 and avid readers. When Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out, my wife went to the Lion & Unicorn bookshop in Richmond, London, and bought a paperback copy for £4.99. We had no idea it was a first edition until years later.
The boys really enjoyed reading it, so when Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released in 1998, she bought a hardback copy from the same shop. It just happened to be signed by the author, J K Rowling. The shop thinks the signed copy must have been supplied by the publisher at the time. My wife was lucky enough to buy it. She paid the normal retail price, around £6.
While they had a suspicion that the copy of Chamber of Secrets might have value because it was signed by J.K. Rowling, they didn’t realize until much more recently that the books were first editions.
The family came upon Hansons Auctioneers by accident, when Tessa took some jewelry to be valued by Hansons London. When she was there, she overheard someone talking about Harry Potter books.
It turned out that Hansons’ book valuer Jim Spencer was a world-renowned expert on Potter first editions. We took his email address and sent him some information and pictures.
Spencer said the books are both in “excellent” condition and that they were “clearly handled with great care and have survived remarkably well.”
The paperback copy of Philosopher’s Stone was valued at £4,000–£6,000 ($4,600–$6,900) and Chamber of Secrets at £1,000–£1,500 ($1,160–$1,700).
Speaking before the auction, Jim Spencer discussed the books and their extraordinary story:
The Harry Potter phenomenon has sparked a vibrant collectors’ market. In recent years, Hansons has sold hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of valuable Potter first editions, and we already have a phone bidder booked for these lots.
I have come across some lucky discoveries before now, but buying two Harry Potter first editions by chance at your local book shop [sic] is one of the best examples yet. I very much hope the Potter magic brings home a good result for the Prince family – and that Tessa’s lucky streak continues!
The auction took place on October 19 in Staffordshire, England. The copy of Philosopher’s Stone sold for £6,200 ($7,170), just higher than its estimated highest price. However, Chamber of Secrets sold for a huge £4,200 ($4,850), despite being estimated to sell at a maximum of £1,500 ($1,700).
It’s safe to say the Prince family must be pleased with that outcome given they only paid about $12.70 for both books when they were originally released.