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First-generation Harry Potter fans could be sitting on a gold mine.
A rare first edition of JK Rowling’s debut novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, has sold at auction for more than twice the asking price.
If you bought a copy in the shops at the time, it would have set you back £4.99. Today an anonymous bidder paid £75,000 for one.
Only 500 hardcover copies of the first Harry Potter novel were published and 300 of them went to libraries. They’re easily spotted because there’s a minor mistake on page 53.
The book, published in June 1997, launched a global phenomenon and turned JK Rowling from a single mum living on benefits to the world's first billionaire author.
The original owner of the rare first edition sold today won’t quite have been made a billionaire, but they’ve made a tidy 1500% profit on their original outlay.
The book was sold by an English ex-pat who originally bought it to help his children learn English growing up in Luxembourg.
It had been lying half-forgotten on a bookshelf for 21 years when the owner decided to check and see if it was a rare copy.
The book was subject to a furious bidding war at Hansons Auctioneers on Tuesday and was finally sold to a private international buyer for a hammer price of £60,000, plus a buyer's premium, coming to a total price of £75,000.
Auctioneer Charles Hanson declared during the sale: "This is the magic of Harry Potter."
He described the book as a "Potter golden ticket" and one of the most desirable first editions.
"Wow, amazing result," he exclaimed at the final price.
Original estimates set the price at £20,000 to £30,000, but it was in such good condition it was expected to sell for more.
This book is one of the remaining 200, and the fourth to be found by Hansons Auctioneers' book expert Jim Spencer in a year.
There are various ways to identify a Philosopher's Stone first issue, published by Bloomsbury in 1997, including duplication of "1 wand" on page 53.
Most importantly, the issue number must read "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1".
The book, which would pave the way for JK Rowling's Harry Potter to become a global success, arrived at the auction house wrapped in a tea towel.
The seller, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I was a big fan of the Potter books when I first read them.
"There are a lot of ethical and human behaviour discussion points in the books and I had a lot of respect for JKR for producing such a polished and nuanced body of work.
"I sent it to Hansons in a tea towel as a little nod to the Hogwarts house-elves, especially Winky and Dobby."
The money from the sale will be used by the vendor to pay off his daughter's student loan and help her apply for a mortgage.
Jim Spencer said: "I'm absolutely thrilled the book achieved such an outstanding price for our vendor.
"I hoped it would make £50,000 but to see it sail past that to reach £60,000 was astonishing."
He added: "It's the highest price ever paid at Hansons for a hardback first edition copy of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone.
"It's the fourth one I have found. The first one, a former Staffordshire library book bought for £1, made £28,500. The hammer price just keeps on rising."
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