Hardly needing an introduction, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have become a modern classic of children’s literature. For twenty-three years, children and adults alike have become enthralled by the magical world of the boy wizard. We were delighted to present a first edition, first impression, hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, inscribed and signed by J.K. Rowling in our June 2020 auction of Rare Books, which achieved a fantastic £125,000 incl premium.
This book is a true rarity. Only 500 copies were produced in first edition, first impression hardback, with around 300 of these being given to libraries and schools. This would leave a maximum of 200 copies of the book in possible circulation in fine, non ex-library condition; though the actual number is likely to be far lower. A handful of first edition, first impression books were then inscribed by J.K. Rowling for friends, acquaintances and family members. This copy is one such work, inscribed: “6-9-97 / For James, Kate and Laura, with best wishes, J.K. Rowling”.
LOT 291 | ROWLING, J.K.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE
London: Bloomsbury, 1997. First edition, hardback,
first impression with the '10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1' numberline on the publisher's imprint page and '1 wand' listed twice on p.53,
inscribed and signed by J.K. Rowling on the front free-endpaper
Sold for £125,000 incl premium
At auction, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has reached high acclaim. Since 2016, signed copies of the first edition have risen in value from £46,000 to $130,000 in 2018. The high collector’s value of a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone reflects J.K. Rowling’s vast commercial success, named by Forbes as 2019’s highest-paid author. The reason for the cultural phenomenon that is Harry Potter is simple: Rowling has created a literary world which allows for absolute absorption and escapism, whilst simultaneously tackling some thought-provoking issues. Similarities can easily be drawn between the persecution of muggle-borns [magical children born to non-magical parents] in the Harry Potter series and the persecution of ethnic minorities on a national-level throughout history. Comparisons have even been drawn between the Ministry of Magic’s approach to the threat of the book’s main antagonist, Lord Voldemort, and the British Government’s policy of appeasement with Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Combine the demand for this engaging narrative with the rarity of a first edition, first impression and the result is a very valuable book!
The Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs auction which took place on Wedneday 17 June presented a wonderful opportunity to welcome the book back to Edinburgh – widely regarded as the “home of Harry Potter.” The boy wizard was dreamt up by Rowling on a delayed rail service between Manchester and London’s King’s Cross Station, however Rowling 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.” Many architectural similarities have also been drawn between Edinburgh’s imposing independent schools and the wizarding school, Hogwarts. In the past, Rowling has said that she imagines Hogwarts to be in Scotland: a claim corroborated by the Harry Potter films, where the school train, the Hogwarts Express, is seen diving over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Scottish Highlands.
A story that has captured the hearts of generations around the world, the rarity of this iconic book made this first edition, first impression extremely desirable. With the continued interest and constant evolution of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone represents the humble beginning of a truly magical journey.