08 August 2007

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense..."

J. K. Rowling. HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. Bloomsbury, London 1997. ISBN 0747532699

Current Selling Prices
$20000+ / £10000+

SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM (Blue bit) for how to value a copy.

A publishing wonder and a book that made reading books OK again amongst kids. For that reason alone JK is a Goddess. Hallowed be her name. It also made her about ten times richer than Madonna. Madonna retaliated by writing her own forgettable children's books. The whole Potter collecting euphoria took off around one trendy Brit dealer on ebay who had sagaciously stockpiled a few boxes of Rowling and a fat packet of genuine Rowling signed Bloomsbury bookplates and started achieving startling results just post millennium. When a Philosopher's Stone hit $15K+, everybody piled in to buy, sell and bid. Issued in illustrated laminated boards and it has no d/w, states first edition and must have 10987654321 on verso of title. Publisher has stated that only 500 were printed and many of those went to libraries, so it is always going to be a difficult book to find and will be collected until Kingdom Come.

I was offered a signed copy of this a few years ago and negotiated a fattish sum for it; however the deal fell through when the sellers father bought the book - to keep it in the family. Kind of frustrating. The chap selling used the money for a deposit on a flat. He had worked in a new bookshop. It turned out many copies of this book came from bookshop workers who had kept copies seeing the incipient phenomenom at first hand. One wily dealer even started advertising for the book in 'The Bookseller' - the organ of the new book trade. Another tiresome one was a jolly chap with a host of signed copies presented to him. He wanted to buy a house with the money. Have you seen house prices recently in this benighted island?

VALUE? Once the book started to get established 5 figure sterling results up market dealers began dealing the book and it appeared at book fairs on the same shelf as firsts of Utopia and Moby Dick. A dealer in LA bought a copy for £18000 in auction 2003, possibly for some star's offspring and in 2004 a copy made nearly £19000 at Bloomsbury Auctions. It hasn't really gone on at all since then and may have flatlined, or even dropped a few percentage points. However every time a new HP appears prices tend to perk up. The US edition ('Sorcerer's Stone') can fetch about $1500 or more (correct number line on copyright page of "1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02," followed by "Printed in the U.S.A.23" and "First American edition, October 1998", the cloth binding has purple diamond embossed boards and a red spine, "Harry Potter" appears in raised gold lettering on the front panel of jacket; jacket has price of $16.95 on upper corner of the front flap; the numbers "51695" are found above the smaller barcode to the right side.) The first UK paperback is a nice thing to find - with dealers asking £2K+. It is exactly the same as the first hardback just bound up with paper covers. I need hardly add the caveat, don't buy signed Rowlings without provenance (a badly printed certificate of authentication is no good) fakes abound. (Jan/07) [ W/Q *** ]

STOP PRESS. Bloomsbury, the great book auction house in Mayfair just had a bit of a result with a classy signed Rowling -- I quote their publicity release:-
Bloomsbury Auctions set another world record

At the sale on the 24 May 2007, Bloomsbury Auctions set another record with a signed first edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Intense bidding in the room and on the telephone pushed the final price to a staggering £27,370 (inc. premium).

The lucky recipient was a private overseas buyer who has obtained a unique presentation copy inscribed 'To David - with best wishes JK Rowling' with the 1 on the number line circled with an additional identification indicating 1st Edition. This was a fantastic result for Bloomsbury and shows that the popularity of the young wizard continues.

More 2007 Results. I can find 3 copies in this sad year of the last Rowling/ Potter- in chronological order at Bloomsbury in April a copy described thus- "... first edition , very light minor browning to the extreme margins, no inscriptions, original boards, very slightly cocked, slightly bumped at upper corners and spine ends, small abrasions to corners near head of spine, light abrading to the thin surface laminate at fore-edge of lower cover, otherwise a very good copy..." made £12495

At Dominic Winter a copy described thus "...a few leaves faintly creased to top outer corner, ms. ownership name to front free endpaper, orig. pictorial boards, sl. rubbed at corners and spine ends..." made £8460

At Bonham's a copy described thus -"... first edition, ownership label inside upper cover, publisher's pictorial boards, slightly rubbed at extremities..." made £9000.

Go figure, but bear in mind these are not books many people are sitting on -every major Children's sale has one. On the other hand there are a finite number out there, condition is king and hope spring's eternal. As for finding one remember the words of Cadillac Jack 'anything can be anywhere' - one turned up at a little bookshop attached to a stately home. Because it was a hardback it was a £1.


Caveat Emptor! AUSTRALIAN FIRST EDITIONS ARE OF MODEST VALUE AND QUITE COMMON. If Australia is mentioned on back of title page as place of printing do not book a holiday in the Bahamas! Canada is also bad news.American editions are worth significantly less than UK ones.CHECK ABEBOOKS.COM

Last thing--you have to have 10987654321 to get lift off with this book and the date 1997 and no later date, a dust jacket is impossible because it didn't have one and don't neglect first edition 10987654321 paperbacks from 1997 - they too are valuable.

For Current Values - CHECK ABEBOOKS.COM All questions are answered there -type Rowling in the author field, type Stone in the title field, type Bloomsbury in publisher field, then choose highest price, hit search and from the results work down from there. The prices at the very top are generally excessive, over the top and way too much.

Generally speaking anything after a fourth edition is very mediocre, fourth and third are modestly worthwhile and occasionally some punter on ebay pays too much for one but you need 10987654321 or at least 1098765432 and it must be 1997 and not Australian or Canadian. See also all the comments below which answer every edition question in the known universe.

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