Earliest Known Copy of “Harry Potter” for Sale at New York International Antiquarian Book Fair

Harry Potter fans and bibliophiles everywhere have some astonishing news coming their way from the world of publishing. What was found to be the earliest known copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is going up for sale at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s (ABAA) New York International Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend.


The earliest known copy of "Harry Potter" goes on sale this weekend.

Source: Manhattan Rare Book Company


What could be considered the very beginning of the historic fantasy franchise, this collection of uncorrected galley sheets holds stories of its own. The Manhattan Rare Book Company, the seller of this rarity, delves further into the background of this incredible piece of Potter history.

In February 1997, literary critic Fiona Waters received this very set of galley sheets to read, which she did “during a long train journey to Scotland.” By all odds, it was quite a happy coincidence that Waters read the earliest version of Harry Potter in a very Potter-like fashion, and we have to take a moment to appreciate this small but funny twist of fate.


Pages signed by Fiona Waters.

Source: Manhattan Rare Book Company


In any other circumstance, Waters would have discarded the galley sheets once she was finished with them. However, she made the decision to hold on to this galley copy after having a feeling that the story within its pages was special. The critic sent her feedback to Rosamund Walker, who was the children’s marketing manager at Bloomsbury Publishing, and with high praises, stated, “There is something about Harry Potter that reminds me of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The comparison would later be quoted on the back of first-edition copies of Philosopher’s Stone.

I have just returned from my great train journey to Scotland, so Harry Potter has been read! I just loved the book; it is full of pace and interest and so very funny… […] And please, may I have a finished copy[?] I would like to tell lots of people about it.

The Manhattan Rare Book Company adds that these galley sheets have historical significance due to the knowledge that they are “the only known set of advance galley sheets to have survived.” This version predates the famed 500 first-edition copies that were later released to the world as well as the 200 bound proof copies that have also gone up for sale. While a series of copies of these galley sheets were distributed to other literary reviewers, they, and other earlier versions of the prints, are likely lost to history.



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Accompanying this unique galley copy is an equally astonishing price of $275,000.

Preview day for the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, located at Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan, is Thursday, April 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. The fair will continue through the weekend and will be open on Friday, April 28, from 12 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 29, from 12 to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, April 30, from 12 to 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale now starting at $65 for preview day and $62 for access to the fair for the remaining three days.