Listen up, longtime Harry Potter fans! It’s time to dust off your bookshelf or make a trip up to the attic because your copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone might be worth a small fortune.
According to the BBC, Hansons Auctioneers in London just sold a rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for £46,000 ($56,976).
Harry Potter first edition sells for $57,000
Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon today, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the first printing of the original title’s first edition only ran 500 copies. Of the 500 first printing copies, 300 ended up in libraries.
The book publisher didn’t want to take a big risk on a previously-unknown author named J.K. Rowling.
— The Rowling Library (@rowlinglibrary) October 10, 2019
It was mainly telephone bidders who sent the rare book’s value through the roof, with the winning price ballooning deep into five-figure territory.
The winning bidder also has to pay value-added tax (VAT) and auctioneer fees on top of this sum, bringing the book’s total cost to £57,040 ($70,500).
How to spot a Harry Potter first printing
The hardback version of the first print is rarer, but the softcover can also be worth quite a bit of money. There were a few thousand copies of the softcover version available for sale at the time.
There are four main identifying points of these first edition copies:
- Bloomsbury, the publisher, needs to be listed at the end of the title page.
- The date in the copyright information section needs to be 1997.
- The print code on the copyright page needs to be “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.”
- On page 53, the item “1 wand” on the list of Hogwarts supplies must appear at the start and the end of the list.
If your book ticks all of these boxes, then you could be in luck!
Other Valuable Books in the Harry Potter Series
The first editions of most of the next few books in the series can also sell for a bit of money. Some of the later versions can also be worth something if the book has the author’s signature. Here is how you identify the valuable copies.
Potential price: $6,500
This is the US version of the Philosopher’s Stone. The US first edition will have a copyright page number line of “1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02.” It will say “Printed in the U.S.A. 23” as well as “First American Edition, October 1998.”
Chamber of Secrets
Potential price: $9,000
This copy has to be published in 1998 by Bloomsbury, and there can be no mention of the next edition, a later date, or a different publisher. It also needs to have the print number sequence “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.”
Prisoner of Azkaban
Potential price: $12,000
This edition needs to be published by Bloomsbury in 1999 and not mention future editions, later dates, or different publishers.
The highest-value copies will list “Joanne Rowling” instead of “J.K. Rowling” as the book’s author. There will also be a formatting error on page 7 at the bottom of the page.
Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, & Deathly Hallows
Potential price: $8,000
As the initial print run for each of these books was massive, the first editions don’t hold as much value. However, signed copies remain rare and can command four-figure price-tags.