Harry Potter: A Classic is Born

Harry Potter: A Classic is Born

First Edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’

In February 2021, we were delighted to present a first edition, first impression of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in our live online auction of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs.

In the last 30 years at least, few books have inspired the imaginations of a generation of children like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Those who queued outside bookshops at midnight waiting for the next work in the series to be released are now in the late 20s and 30s and the franchise has expanded to encompass eight Harry Potter films, two Fantastic Beasts films, a sell-out stage play, three theme parks and a studio tour. As of 2016, the franchise as a whole was estimated to be worth $25 billion.


Harry Potter | February 2021

Lot 53 | Rowling, J.K. | Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone | London: Bloomsbury, 1997. First edition, first impression, with the 10-1 numberline on the publisher's imprint page, hardcover, 8vo, original publisher's pictorial laminated boards, library circulation label indicating withdrawal, laminated barcode to front free endpaper and neat label pasted to publication page, some restoration work, very slight browning and slight soiling internally including a couple of small ink marks to first page, star stamp to upper edge | Sold for £48,750 incl premium


View Lot 53 ⇒


It is therefore very poignant to encounter the point at which all this began: J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was published in London, by Bloomsbury, in 1997. Unsure of its success, the publishers issued only 500 copies of the first edition, first impression in hardback. Twelve different publishing houses had already rejected Rowling’s pitch for the book. In February 2021, we were delighted to offer one of these 500 copies of the first edition, first impression hardbacks for sale.

The book is a first edition, first impression hardback: the jewel in a Harry Potter collector’s crown. This is indicated by a numberline reading 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 on the publisher’s imprint page, the publisher being listed as Bloomsbury, the error of ‘1 wand’ being listed twice in Harry’s school equipment list and ‘Philosopher’ being misspelt ‘Philospher’ on the lower cover. It is an exceptionally rare book to find in any condition, and a real privilege to work with.

The city of Edinburgh is also a special place in the Harry Potter world. J.K. Rowling in fact created Harry on a delayed rail service between Manchester and London’s King’s Cross Station, however she has said: “…Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafés.” Edinburgh boasts sites such as the gravestone of Thomas Riddell Esq. in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, thought by many to be the inspiration behind the true name of the series’ antagonist, Lord Voldemort (or Tom Riddle). It is therefore fitting that this early and important piece of Harry Potter history is sold in the city which many consider to be its home.

 Wendy Cooling's review on the upper cover states: "A terrific read and a stunning first novel", another key issue point of the first edition, first impression. The book is indeed a story that has captured the hearts of generations around the world, with this copy representing the birth of a true classic.



Auction Information


Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

Wednesday, 24th & Thursday, 25th February 2021 


View the auction results ⇒



Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps Department


Lyon & Turnbull’s dedicated team of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps specialists have established an international reputation for their auctions, selling both through our Scottish auction house in Edinburgh, and via our online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on books and manuscripts, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to the successful sale of fine antiquarian books, modern first editions, folios, autographed letters and important archives.


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