14 December 2007

J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 1998.

J.K. Rowling. HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS. Bloomsbury,London 1998. ISBN: 0747538492

Current Selling Prices
$1500-$3000 /£750-£1500

I thought I would republish this entry to commemorate the £1.95 million ($3.98 million) paid yesterday for a shortish Potter manuscript -"The Tales of Beedle the Bard". One of seven copies of the Tales, bound in brown leather and decorated in silver and moonstones. Six have been given to people closely connected to the Harry Potter books. Nice presents. Obviously an absurd price but the money goes to a great charity (The Children's Voice) so one cannot knock it and the buyer will have bought many quarters of an hour of fame. (Stop Press--now known to have bought my Bezos of Amazon for publicity, kudos and out of sheer decency etc., The purchase is a pittance compared to his investment in space flight. ) A 'Mad Hatter' price - higher than that achieved for an Alice manuscript even if you adjust the price for inflation. Will do the math on this later - the Alice sold for about £35,000 in the 1930s as I recall. The money will help a very good cause so who really cares?

'Chamber of Secrets' is the second in the immortal Hogwarts series. Print line must read 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. If that is there you have a first edition. In the copy inscribed to her father and stepmother sold in NY 2003 for $9000 JK has circled the figure 1 and written 'First Edition- I got one!' We were once offered a copy by the dedicatee of the book and the owner of the Ford Anglia pictured on the cover. Deal fell through because the guy wanted to buy a house with the notional money, however we asked the all important question. Where is the Ford Anglia? Apparently it was scrapped years ago - a pity because I could see that making housebuying money.

Harry Potter seems to have brought into being a new kind of slightly naff bookseller with plenty of patter and heartfelt blandishments in their book descriptions:
'Hand signed directly onto the main title page'...'Unread with good square corners'... '100% ironclad provenance' ... 'great addition to any serious collection'....'we wish you every success with your collecting'.. 'Books laced with contemporary and long-term appeal, distinguished by fine condition and that touch of the unique'...'providing the astute collector with high quality books for pleasure and investment'...'everything is just right about this one, you have our assurance... highlights of long-term promise in all genres... A most attractive acquisition...'
It is curious how those who promise some kind of long term return on your investment are always charging twice the price of any other dealer. I guess you just have to hold on to the book that bit longer. The book is often 'A VERY FINE copy in VERY FINE dustwrapper...unusually lovely...' How fine can a book get, if you have 'very fine' and 'extra fine' can we assume that 'fine' is actually not very fine?

One thinks of Leonard Rossiter as the unctuous Mr Shadrack in 'Billy Liar' - determined to modernise his funeral service. The books are often trumpeted as investments with added stuff loosely inserted and illustrations by the artist etc., Putting the bland in blandishments...but perhaps these guys are providing a service and a new breed of punter has arisen to buy their wares, as they used to say 'wally goes to wally.'

VALUE? Hard to find a decent one fine in fine for less than £1000, but one should not have to pay more than that. The book is nowhere near as scarce as 'Philosopher's Stone' and copies can usually be found on Ebay every day. Auction records showing a slight flattening of prices with the book selling for betwen £600 and £1000 in 2006 about 6 times. It may rise, as exquisite copies are not especially easy to find anymore, even though the book is less than 10 years old it usually shows up used in some way. People have read the book, never a good idea. We sold a copy at Christmas 2000 in fine condition for £1500 and haven't bought one since. Pottermania was then at its height. De Luxe ed goes for £100, the Deluxe of Azkaban is the one you want - it can make £800+. Signatures are best avoided unless there is good provenance - usually a ticket or buying from an established firm who will take the book back if the signature doesn't pass the 'blink' test. [ W/Q **** ]

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