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Is your old Harry Potter book a rare edition worth $54,000?

A scene of Hermione and Harry Potter in the library, with a photo of the rare Harry Potter first edition.
There are some sure-fire ways to know whether you've got one of these rare first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. (Source: Warner Bros/Hansons Auctioneers)

If you have a dusty hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sitting at home, check your edition, stat – you could be sitting on a book worth tens of thousands of dollars.

There are only 500 copies in the world of this particular first edition, and it’s expected to fetch up to £30,000 – or $53,750 – at an English auction on the last day of July (which is incidentally Harry Potter and JK Rowling’s birthdays).

According to Hansons Auctioneers, the novel up for auction is owned by a 54 year old office worker from Stafford, England, who he said the book was purchased second-hand in 1999 for a single pound (AU $1.80) at a library sale while he was on holiday.

"I bought the book along with three or four others to read on holiday about 20 years ago,” he said.

"I thought nothing of it at the time. I read the book, in fact I've read all the Harry Potter series, and then put it away in a cupboard for years.

"It's so exciting to think that a holiday read could be worth so much now."

(Source: Hansons Auctioneers)
(Source: Hansons Auctioneers)

‘Holy grail’ of Harry Potter books

Jim Spencer, rare books expert at Hansons Auctioneers – which is holding the auction – told the Daily Mirror that 500 copies of the first edition were made, with 300 going to libraries.

“When our client bought the book for £1 all those years ago no-one realised what a huge impact the Harry Potter stories would have globally,” he said.

Hansons Auctioneers' Jim Spencer with the Harry Potter first edition. (Source: Hansons Auctioneers)
Hansons Auctioneers' Jim Spencer with the Harry Potter first edition. (Source: Hansons Auctioneers)

“The majority of the books in that first print run went to schools and libraries. They are extremely rare.

“This is a landmark in children’s literature, but it appeals to young and old. Everybody knows this book. This is the holy grail for so many collectors.”

How do I know if I own one of the 1-in-500 copies?

The rare first edition were published by Bloomsbury on June 30, 1997 and is recognisable by its misspellings and typos.

In this edition’s page of publication details, Rowling’s name is spelt as ‘Joanne Rowling’, rather than the acronym of her first name and grandmother’s name (Kathleen) that the world knows her for.

The back page has a typo: "Acclaim for Harry Potter and the 'Philospher's' Stone." (Source: Hansons Auctioneers)
The back page has a typo: "Acclaim for Harry Potter and the 'Philospher's' Stone." (Source: Hansons Auctioneers)

The back page spells “philosophers” with a missing ‘o’, and on page 53, Harry Potter’s list of school equipment features ‘1 wand’ twice.

(Source: Hansons Auctioneers)
(Source: Hansons Auctioneers)

The auction will be held on 31 July at Hansons’ Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, in Staffordshire, England.

Old editions of Harry Potter are worth a fortune

It’s not the first Harry Potter book to sell for an eye-watering figure – wealthy collectors and fans worldwide will pay a pretty penny for the rarity.

Other copies of this edition went for $50,150 earlier in May this year and another copy, signed by the author herself, was sold for $121,800 at an auction.

Do you have one of the 500 rare copies? Use it well.

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