A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone has sold at auction for an eye-watering £55,104.
A copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was spotted in a bargain bucket in the Scottish Highlands by a 58-year-old local woman who has not been named, she found the book during a family caravan holiday in Wester Ross 26 years ago, and was auctioned by Hansons on December 11 this year.
The book came without a dust jacket so was initially sold to the woman for a reduced price of £10. It ended up on a remote Scottish peninsula. She let it sit in a cupboard under the stairs for years, just like the titular character of the novel but it remained in pristine condition, unlike other originals which often decayed in children’s rucksacks. Hansons Auctioneers said the book was one of 200 copies distributed to shops from its first-ever print run, with a recommended retail price of £10. The elated seller found out about the fantasy series after reading one of J K Rowling’s first interviews in national newspaper The Scotsman, in the late 1990s.
The recently retired third sector manager explained that she bought the book with minimal knowledge of the series, before it became a bestseller and worldwide hit.
She said: ‘I bought the Harry Potter book before anyone really knew much about it, or the author. I found it during a family caravan trip touring round the highlands of Scotland.
‘I discovered a bookshop café on an isolated peninsula after driving miles on a single-track road in the north-west of Scotland.
‘I recognised the distinctive book cover straight away. The book seller had placed it in a wicker “bargain bucket” basket on the floor.
Because it had no dust jacket, I got a couple of pounds knocked off the price. Our two children enjoyed the wizard tale as a bedtime story all through that holiday in 1997.’
Hansons Auctioneers claim that the first book in the series is the rarest and most valuable – essentially gold dust for collectors.
Jim, a world-renowned expert on Potter finds, called the discovery astonishing. These first issues are getting harder and harder to find. This must be one of the few remaining copies thats been in private hands since it was purchased in 1997.
Its astonishing it ended up on a remote Scottish peninsula, and it was all down to an article in The Scotsman and perhaps a dusting of magic that encouraged the inquisitive and very lucky buyer to pluck it from the bargain bin, he added.
This is the 19th hardback Philosophers Stone first edition out of the original 500 discovered by Mr Spencer.
They have sold at auction for between £17,500 and £69,000, plus buyers premium, dependent on condition.
He has also uncovered numerous paperback first issues which have achieved as much as £8,500.