Rare 'Harry Potter' book sold for $84,500 after sitting on woman's shelf for 17 years
Like an invaluable Horcrux ditched in a Hogwarts Castle bathroom, a recently uncovered children's book's true value is only coming to light, years later.
TORONTO -- Like an invaluable Horcrux ditched in a Hogwarts Castle bathroom, a recently uncovered children's book's true value is only coming to light, years later.
A rare first issue hardback copy of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" -- the first in the famous series by J.K. Rowling -- sold for around $84,500, after being discovered by an English woman who was helping clean out her mother's home.
According to Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers, the book is one of only 500 from the first print run published by Bloomsbury in 1997. In a tweet, the auction house also mentioned selling another first edition for $114, 900, along with other rare Potter books also for $84,500.
In the press release, Charlotte Rumsey said the book had been at her mother's house in Blackpool, U.K. since she moved there in 2003. Rumsey said her mother Karen "can't believe she has had such a valuable book sitting on her bookshelf all that time."
"Things like this don’t happen to normal families like us. Our friends are delighted for us," Rumsey said in the release.
Rumsey initially didn't realize that she’d essentially caught the golden snitch with the find. The book was destined to be sold at a swap meet -- inside a box filled with other junk she thought would each only fetch less than a dollar.
"I'd been helping mum have a clear out during lockdown as she’s downsizing. We'd put lots of things aside for a car boot sale in Blackpool including the Harry Potter book which we’d had since 1999. A friend of the family gave it to us for me and my brothers to read as they thought we might enjoy it," she explained.
But what made Rumsey reconsider the value of the book was catching Antiques Roadshow on TV, where someone discovered they'd been holding onto rare Harry Potter books worth $22,000. That's when Rumsey called her mother to double-check the book they had.
"She took it out of the box and I began reading out the issue points that identify it as first edition. As she turned the pages to check each one, everything seemed to be exactly the same," Rumsey said, which led to them contacting the Hansons Auctioneers whose book expert Jim Spencer confirmed it.
"I'm delighted for the family. Charlotte said she was hopping about, and the hairs stood up on her arms, when she received my call confirming it was a first issue," Spencer said.
This was the fifth hardback edition of the "Philosopher's Stone" he'd uncovered in 18 months.
"Of the 500 copies printed, 300 went to schools and libraries -- so this is a good example of one of the scarcer 200 that went to shops," Spencer explained.
The Hansons auction house, which boasts a track record of uncovering hardback first editions of that book, sold its last one in October for a whopping $101,396.
The Harry Potter book and movie series has been a sore subject for many fans recently after author J.K. Rowling was accused of making transphobic statements on social media.
The "Harry Potter" author shared an opinion article titled "Creating a More Equal Post-COVID-19 World for People Who Menstruate," calling out the article's use of the phrase "people who menstruate."
"I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," Rowling wrote in a tweet. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"
There was swift backlash from fans as well as publishing houses, such as Indigo Books, who condemned her statement saying “It is disappointing to us that J.K. Rowling, an author we admired and supported and that our customers have so supported, would make statements so inconsistent with our values.”