The world’s first dedicated Harry Potter Auction featuring FIVE rare first edition books and a multitude of unusual discoveries could achieve total sales of more than £200,000. The May 5 event has been sparked by the phenomenal success of ‘Harry Potter magnet’ Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons Auctioneers.
Since discovering his first ‘holy grail’ Harry Potter find in 2019, he’s carved an international reputation for finding first editions of this landmark in children’s literature. These have included eight hardback first issues of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which have sold for between £17,500 and £68,000. Only 500 were printed in 1997 but the May sale includes five more – one purchased for only 50p. That means Jim has found 13 in total in 21 months.
Jim, associate director and head of books and works on paper at Hansons, said: “My head is spinning with rare Harry Potter books and memorabilia. For a couple of years now I’ve been responding to hundreds of enquiries every single week from all over the globe. Most of these enquiries fall short, so I’m letting people down gently throughout the day, every day. But it’s like panning for gold – I have to spot the glimmering specks among the grainy words or images coming through to my screen. Those nuggets of gold are all the more exciting when I find them! There’s a lot of work involved, but it’s an honour.”
“The first issue hardback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published by Bloomsbury in 1997, marks the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Of the 500 copies printed, 300 were sent to schools and libraries and 200 to shops. The five in this sale have guide prices ranging from £10,000 and £50,000 each, dependant on condition. One was purchased in 1998 for just 50p from a book shop sale bin during a holiday in Scotland”.
Hansons is also selling FIVE first issue paperbacks of Philosopher’s Stone, with guide prices ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 each.
Another rare find, pre-dating the first issue hardback, is a proof cover design for Bloomsbury, dated June 1997. This is a scarce proof sheet of the proposed illustrated wrappers, which would have accompanied one of 200 uncorrected, pre-publication copies of the book. A rare survivor with considerable variations from the final published version, it’s guided at £700-£1,000.
Movie magic and a guide price of £10,000 comes to the fore in a lot which includes four taxidermy specimens of snakes and lizards hired by Warner Bros for the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in 2001. The lot includes rental agreements and instructions from the Harry Potter Art Department at Leavesden Studios to Snowdonia Taxidermy Studios, which has consigned the items to auction.
Potterheads can also bid on an archive of Harry Potter goodies from Matthew LaCroix, author of a fan letter famously used on the dust-jacket of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Matthew was only 12 when he wrote to JK Rowling: ‘Dear Joanne Rowling, Looking forward to lunchtimes, so I could read Harry’s world of magic, is great, so…thank you for adding that touch of excitement in my day…. Please, Please, please, Please, PLEASE!!!!! Bring another one, keeping writing, my life depends on it. Yours Sincerely, Matthew LaCroix, Your No. 1 fan!’
The archive, guided at £3,000, comprises gifts and correspondence sent to Matthew from Bloomsbury, a first edition Goblet of Fire signed by the author, promotional posters featuring his letter; confirmation his fan mail will take ‘pride of place’ on the jacket; photographs and material relating to a book signing Matthew did for Waterstones, and more.
More Potter magic emerges courtesy of a story attached to a first issue hardback of Chamber of Secrets. It bears an intriguing inscription, ‘To Jill, who very spookily gave me a beautiful card with something from Book Four on it! With many thanks, JK Rowling’. The seller met J K Rowling when she was a young Potter fan. Her mother was a teacher at Dunblane Primary School and JK Rowling paid them a visit in February, 1999. The vendor said: “My mum had arranged with other members of staff to take JK Rowling for lunch at a café in Dunblane High Street and asked if I could come along too. I was 11 at the time and a huge Harry Potter fan. JK Rowling sat beside me and the two of us had a good chat!”.
There are also two first editions of Order of the Phoenix signed by the cast of children from the film including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. The vendor arranged for two books to be signed, one for each of her two children. Daniel Radcliffe has inscribed each one, ‘Magic Rules OK!’ and ‘Magic Rocks!’ Estimate £1,500-£2,500 each.
Police drama comes to the fore in one lot, a first edition of Half-Blood Prince. It was an original exhibit from a theft and blackmail case involving armed police, all sparked by Potter fever prior to the release of the novel. Six weeks before the eagerly-anticipated publication of the penultimate novel in the Harry Potter series, two copies of the book were stolen from a secure distribution centre in Northamptonshire. An attempt was made to obtain money from two national newspapers by revealing the novel’s secrets. The vendor, an anonymous retired police officer, was given the book as a gift for his hard work. Estimate £500-£800.
Potter Power means random items linked to the phenomenon are valuable – even an auction catalogue. In 2007 one of Rowling’s seven manuscripts of The Tales of Beedle the Bard sold for £1.95 million. Hansons is offering an auction catalogue from the sale signed by Rowling and four cast members from the Harry Potter films, Devon Murray, Matthew Lewis, Fiona Shaw and Evanna Lynch. Estimate £500-£800.
Other lots include two original ink cartoons by Nick Newman for The Sunday Times, satirising the huge excitement around the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, guide price £200-£300, plus various first editions and signed books.
The online-only Hogwarts Harry Potter Auction will take place on May 5 at 2pm at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire. Viewing by prior appointment only. To book an appointment email Jim Spencer: [email protected]. View the catalogue at www.hansonslive.co.uk.
Free valuations of all types of antiques and collectables, including books, are available by appointment at Bishton Hall. To find out more, email: [email protected]