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Man Finds Out His Harry Potter Book Is Worth A Whopping £30,000

Man Finds Out His Harry Potter Book Is Worth A Whopping £30,000

The first edition J. K Rowling book picked up a gigantic sum at auction.

Joanna Freedman

Joanna Freedman

Were you an OG Harry Potter fan? Or perhaps somebody passed you down a first edition as a family heirloom?

Well, you might want to think about cashing in on yours, because one man has just discovered his copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone could be worth £30,000 - and it had just been sitting on his bookshelf for two decades!

The civil servant, 68, was gifted the rare edition of the book back in 1997 - of which only 500 were ever printed.

And, incredibly, he's managed to keep it in good condition, despite previously letting his two children, then aged four and seven, read it in the bath.

The book is still in good condition despite being shared by a family for 2 decades (

Deemed a "holy grail" for collectors, the JK Rowling novel is expected to fetch between £20,000-£30,000 when it goes under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers.

The seller, who isn't named, said: "The book was a present. As it turns out, it is the most valuable present we have ever been given.

"In 1997 we were living abroad on a Foreign Office posting. It wasn't the other side of the world but, in a country with an esoteric language and not the strongest historical ties with the UK, opportunities for children to find English language books were few.

"So, when this book turned up from Yorkshire it was a rare thing - a novel-length children's book with an intriguing storyline. It drew us in."

The man says that the book has been cherished in their family, joining him on many family holidays and even making an appearance during his kids' bath times.

"When our son heard our copy was a first edition, he said he was glad he had never dropped it in the bathwater," he added.

"Since that posting abroad, the copy has been read from time to time but for most of the last 20 years has been in our general collection of books, first in a line of all seven in the Potter series, at home just outside London.

"We have always hoarded children's books that were either very good or much loved and still have quite a few in the loft. But the Potter books were not just for children.

"And they were exceptional in their evolving detail and cleverness. So, they are on our shelves waiting to be read again."

The book is an incredibly rare first edition (

The lucky owner said that when he saw stories of first edition books selling, he did ponder whether his could pick up the big bucks.

However, he added that he never gave it serious thought, until now.

"When the sale of a first edition of this book made the news some years ago, it did flash through my mind that we had an early copy.

"But actually having a rare book is something that just doesn't happen to you, you tend to think, and I didn't have a clue what to look for anyway.

"It's like a stamp with a print error, or a rare stamping of a coin. Why would you know?"

It was an article about Hansons auctioneers caught the man's eye on the BBC website that he checked his own book out.

After looking at an online checklist, he said: "To my amazement point after point confirmed it was a first edition.

"I asked my wife to check it for herself. And then I asked our children if they minded my contacting Hansons.

"The copy, as well as the story, is part of their childhood after all. And they were fine with the idea.

"I contacted Hansons and owner, Charles Hanson, wrote back and asked for more detail.

"I sent photographs and Charles rang straight back and gave me an estimated sale value at auction. It took a moment to digest. Several actually."

First edition Harry Potter books can be worth a lot (
Warner Bros/Harry Potter)

The book is due to be sold on March 16 in Hansons' Auctioneers Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffs.

It's the ninth Philosopher's Stone hardback copy Hansons has unearthed in 18 months and hammer prices have ranged from £17,500 to £68,000, dependant on condition.

Of the 500 books published by Bloomsbury 25 years ago, 300 went to schools and libraries and 200 to book shops.

The man added: "We love books but do not collect rare or first editions. It's a wonderful thing that some people do.

"While this is not just another book to us, for the reasons I have mentioned it should belong to someone who will really appreciate its rarity.

"I suppose we could keep it as an investment but, in a way, having something of this value around the house, now we know what it is, wouldn't feel comfortable.

"We might be afraid to read it."

Expert Jim Spencer specialises in spotting rare books (

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons' Library Department, said: "Finding another first issue hardback of the 500 originally published is really special.

"I'm honoured to be handling these, and I share the excitement of every vendor.

"I receive hundreds of emails and calls from hopeful owners of Harry Potters all over the world, so it's a little tougher having to let most people down gently - but I check every enquiry, respond to every person, because it's like panning for gold.

"When it was given as gift all those years ago no-one knew Harry Potter would turn into a worldwide phenomenon.

"The buyer unwittingly purchased a first edition, destined to be worth thousands of pounds decades later, as a gift. It's lovely for the family.

"They had no idea their bookshelf contained something so special until recently."

If you're thinking, 'wait a sec, I definitely have a really, really old copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone knocking about somewhere', then you could be sitting on a goldmine - but there are a few things to check first.

First, you can spot one of the ultra rare versions by looking at page 53. In a sentence describing the list of things Harry should bring to Hogwarts, "1 wand" will appear twice.

Next, you should look for the print line that should read '1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1'. This is a line of text located at the bottom of the copyright page of books. Your rare edition will also credit "Joanne Rowling" instead of JK on the title page.

If you don't hold a coveted first edition, don't let your hopes be dashed too soon. Less rare editions are still selling for anything between £20 and thousands depending on factors like their condition and print run.

The most ever paid for a Harry Potter book at auction is £1.95million. A copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, of which there are only seven copies in existence, had been expected to sell for just £50,000 in 2007, but it turned out to be much more popular.

Brb, we're off to check our bookshelf immediately...

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros