First-Edition “Philosopher’s Stone” That Was Bought for Pennies Leads to Bidding War at Auction

Harry Potter fans are well aware that first-edition copies of the first few Harry Potter books are rare and worth a lot of money, in particular hardback first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone because only 500 copies of these were printed.

Another one of these original first-edition hardbacks, which was bought from a library for 30p (39¢) and was rediscovered after the owner’s death, has been sold for £10,500 ($13,700) at Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Lichfield, England.


Auctioneer Richard Winterton holding the rare book (Credit: Richard Winterton Auctioneers)

Auctioneer Richard Winterton holds the rare book. (Source: Richard Winterton Auctioneers)


The book’s owner, a 55-year-old man from Staffordshire, England, sadly died earlier this year. He was a collector who had a lifelong passion for books, as described by his sister:

He started dealing in books and memorabilia when he was still at school. He would go to jumble sales and church fairs and would come back with a pile of annuals or comics…. When he moved house four years ago, he literally put everything into hundreds of boxes, many of which went into containers.

The man’s family was aware that he had the book, but he had not been able to remember where it was. They thought it was lost before a team from Richard Winterton Auctioneers sorted through his belongings and came across the book.


The first edition "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" that went up for auction (Credit: Richard Winterton Auctioneers)

This first-edition “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” went up for auction. (Source: Richard Winterton Auctioneers)


The book, which has clearly been well loved and read many times over, was withdrawn from the shelves of Wolverhampton Library in England because it was too tatty to continue lending it out to the public. It was then sold to the collector for just 30p (39¢) after he recognized its value.

Originally thought to be able to make up to £5,000 ($6,500) at auction, the first edition led to a bidding war at Richard Winterton Auctioneers and finally sold for £10,500 ($13,700). Auctioneer Richard Winterton said, “We’re absolutely delighted with this result…. This copy has clearly been well-read and still has its library identification sticker, spine sticker with the letter J, withdrawal stamp, and 30p selling price.”


The original library stamp along with the amount it sold for (Credit: Richard Winterton Auctioneers)

The book has its original library stamp along with the amount it was sold for. (Source: Richard Winterton Auctioneers)


This edition is not signed, making it worth less than a signed first-edition Philosopher’s Stone book, one of which sold for a record amount at auction last year.

Do you think you might have a rare first-edition Potter book? Be sure to take a good look over it to check for forgery, and if your book passes the first-edition test, it could be worth a big sum.

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.