Librarian’s Signed First-Edition “Harry Potter” Books After Chance Meeting with the Author in 1999 Went Up for Auction
In 1999, a school librarian had a chance meeting with J.K. Rowling, who signed her first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Now, the books have gone up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers.
Janette Tuckwell worked at Millfield Preparatory School in Glastonbury, England, and was contacted by the staff at Waterstones in Wells, Somerset, informing her that a “children’s author” was coming to the bookstore and wondered whether she wanted to arrange for some pupils from her school to visit.
I said yes and together with an English teacher, took a Year 6 class of 10[-] and 11[-]years [sic] old [sic] to the store.
The children’s author turned out to be J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books! At that time, her books were popular, but the Potter phenomenon hadn’t gone global.
Tuckwell recalls how Rowling was “brilliant with the pupils,” and she even managed to take a photo of the children with the author and get her first editions of Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets signed.
I remember being very impressed by her dedication and the way she handled the children’s questions. If they asked something about the books, she would refer to a character or plot line [sic] to make sure they had read it. She was very thorough and professional.
It wasn’t until 20 years later that Tuckwell read an article about how first-edition and signed Potter books were sought after in the collectors’ world. So she decided to contact Hansons Auctioneers, and her signed books were valued by Jim Spencer, Hansons’s books expert, at £1,500 ($1,800) to £2,000 ($2,400).
Both signed books are paperbacks and were sold alongside the original photograph of Tuckwell’s pupils with Rowling and unsigned first-edition paperbacks of Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
As discussed by Spencer, who has seen many rare books in his time, the original photograph backs up Tuckwell’s story, meaning “collectors around the world can bid with confidence, but it’s also a heart-warming [sic] memento of a reading craze – before any of the films had been made.”
In a market completely flooded with fake Rowling signatures, it’s lovely to have such great provenance with these signed books. It’s nice to think of those excited children going to meet J K Rowling in 1999. It highlights just what makes Harry Potter so special – not many books get children queuing up to meet the author.
The book collection went up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers on March 7 and sold for £1,000 ($1,200). This is less than its initial valued price of £1,500 ($1,800) to £2,000 ($2,400), but we can imagine it must have been a huge moment for Tuckwell, and it must only add to the memories she has of that special day back in 1999.