WHAT: When an unsigned first edition of J.K. Rowling’s first title in her popular “Harry Potter” series hit a rare books sale at Heritage Auctions, few expected the result. By the time bidders were done, the book reached $81,250. The sum, more than four times pre-sale estimate, topped an existing record of $60,000 to set a new world record.
MORE: Released in June 1997, the title is now 20 years old. Only 500 first editions were distributed, all in England. They were issued without a dust cover, and 300 were pegged for British libraries.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: The title, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was used in the U.K. In the U.S., it was “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
HOT TIP: Consider the odds against this specific title surviving. Books are generally considered consumables intended to be read, then saved or discarded. No one saw Pottermania coming; only a clairvoyant would have known to stash away a first edition.
BOTTOM LINE: According to Heritage, the sale was the highest result for a Potter book at auction, plus the highest sum realized for an unsigned work of fiction published in the last 50 years.
BOOK IT! “Harry Potter: The Unofficial Guide to the Collectibles of Our Favorite Wizard” by Eric Bradley ($22.97, Krause Publications) is a new price guide/fan book on Potter memorabilia. The book tracks actual sale prices realized for costumes and props from Potter films, plus statues, scale figures, etc. Also values for assorted collectibles, with bits of Potter trivia and inside info.