Harry Potter book found in Highland bookshop sells for £55k

A first edition of Harry Potter , which was bought for a tenner in 1997 , has sold for an eye-watering £55,104 at auction.

The hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in JK Rowling’s stories about a boy wizard, was picked up by a woman found the book during a family caravan holiday in Wester Ross.

The women, who lives near Edinburgh, picked up the book in a bargain bucket and kept in a cupboard under the stairs for years, just like the young Harry Potter in the story.

Hansons Auctioneers said the book was one of 200 copies distributed to shops from its first-ever print run.

‘It’s a great result for a great find,’ said Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer. ‘This was a genuine, honest first issue and a fantastically well-preserved example.

‘It was fresh to market and it deserved to go full steam like the Hogwart’s Express.

‘Of the 500 first issue hardbacks printed, 300 went to schools and libraries in order to reach a bigger audience. This is one of the even scarcer 200 that went to bookshops.’

The auctioneers sold the book for £55,104 to a private UK online buyer.

The seller, a 58-year-old retired manager, bought the book at a bookshop café at the end of a single-track road near Ullapool.

She recognised the author’s name having read an interview with Rowling in The Scotsman newspaper.

‘I bought the Harry Potter book before anyone really knew much about it, or the author,’ said the seller.

‘I found it during a family caravan trip touring round the highlands of Scotland. I discovered a bookshop café on an isolated peninsula after driving miles on a single-track road in the north-west of Scotland.

‘I recognised the distinctive book cover straight away. The book seller had placed it in a wicker ‘bargain bucket’ basket on the floor. Because it had no dust jacket, I got a couple of pounds knocked off the price.

‘Our two children enjoyed the wizard tale as a bedtime story all through that holiday in 1997.

‘My children read something online years back about how to identify first editions and told me they thought we had one of them,’ the seller added.

‘But I said the edition was worthless due to it having no dust jacket. Some time later I learned the book was never released with a dust jacket. At that point, we stored the book away. It lived like the young Harry Potter did, in the cupboard under the stairs.

‘I forgot about it for a long time but then read about the rarity of first editions.

‘I decided to contact Jim Spencer, the Harry Potter books expert at Hansons. I wanted to authenticate my copy and find out what it might be worth.

‘My children are grown up now and I thought it was time for someone else to have the pleasure of owning a rare piece of literary history.’

Hansons said the hardbacks are the rarest and most prized Potter books, the holy grail for collectors. They represent the start of the worldwide Harry Potter phenomenon.

‘These first issues are getting harder and harder to find. This must be one of the few remaining copies that’s been in private hands since it was purchased in 1997,’ said Jim.

‘It’s astonishing it ended up on a remote Scottish peninsula, and it was all down to an article in The Scotsman – and perhaps a dusting of magic – that encouraged the inquisitive and very lucky buyer to pluck it from the bargain bin.

‘Most examples are quite badly worn, especially ex-library copies. They’ve often been shared among friends and carried around in school rucksacks, which in some ways is lovely, capturing the buzz of Harry Potter when it first gained popularity.

‘However, more traditional collectors are incredibly fussy about condition, which helped this book fulfil its potential.’