In 1997, Bloomsbury printed just 500 hardback first edition copies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone – most of which were apparently “bound for public libraries.” Based on the precedent established by Heritage Auctions last week, owning such a copy could net you as much as US$471,000 (AU$662,000) in present day.
The record-breaking sale hosted in Dallas, Texas opened live bidding at US$75,000 (AU$105,560). After a “protracted round of heated bidding” for the pristine condition novel, that figure had more than 6X’d; dwarfing previous auction prices for Harry Potter first editions, which ranged anywhere between US$110,000 (au$154,820) to US$138,000 (AU$194,230).
“Not only is it the most expensive Harry Potter book ever sold,” notes Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President Joe Maddalena via statement.
“It’s the most expensive commercially published 20th-century work of fiction ever sold.”
“Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was brought to life on the big screen two decades ago, and this result shows the power of that combination of literature and cinema. These books are being rewarded for the results of their films.”
Back in 2019, you may recall first edition copies of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone were making headlines for their potential to earn you a comparatively meagre sum of $50,000 at auction. Unlike the one offloaded by Heritage Auctions, these collector’s items weren’t hardbacks, but they did feature another unique aspect.
“At first glance, you can easily identify if you’re sitting on a gold mine by checking for two publishing errors,” explained BH’s very own John McMahon.
“The first is the spelling of the word ‘philosopher’ on the back cover and the second is the repetition of ‘1 wand’ in the list of equipment for Harry’s first year.”
The identity of the buyer who snapped up the hardback first edition copy of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone at the latest Heritage Auctions sale has yet to be revealed. As for the rest of you – better get rummaging through the old shed, eh?