Harry Potter first edition sells for £69,000 after auction bidding battle

Book expert Jim Spencer with the pristine first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Credit: Hansons auctioneers

A pristine first edition of the most valuable Harry Potter book ever published has been sold for £69,000.

The book, which was kept in darkness, unread and in a protective sleeve for 25 years, sparked an auction bidding battle.

Online and phone bidders competed to buy the ‘as-good-as-new’ hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, one of only 500 in the first ever Potter book print run in 1997.

It went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers’ Staffordshire saleroom this morning and the gavel fell at £69,000 to an online USA bidder, above its guide price of £40,000-£60,000.

The back cover of the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone features a giveaway spelling mistake Credit: Hansons auctioneers

Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons, said: “I’m delighted for our vendor. It’s certainly a good return for the £12.99 he paid for the book – and he nearly asked for his money back because he thought it had a fatal flaw.”

The seller, a retired paper merchant director, 68, from West Sussex, who pre-ordered the book from Leatherhead Bookworm in Surrey in 1997, said: “It didn’t have a dust jacket and I thought it should.

“I was really disappointed when I went to pick it up. I’m a collector and, being a first edition, I expected it to have one. I decided to keep the book on the toss of a coin. It was a moment of destiny.”

Years later he discovered that Philosopher’s Stone hardback first issues don’t come with a dust jacket – so his copy was as good as it could be.

WATCH: Auctioneer Jim Spencer points out some of the telltale errors in the first edition

“I’ve really looked after it. It’s in the best condition it possibly can be – almost perfect I would say. It’s never been read.

"A year after I bought it, with Harry Potter excitement growing at my daughter’s school, she asked if she could read it. I said no, absolutely not. Instead, I bought her another copy.

“I’m very pleased with the result. Though it was a very good copy, the book wasn’t quite perfect. It won’t pay off my mortgage but it will go a long way towards it!”

Mr Spencer has sourced and sold 16 hardback first issues of Philosopher’s Stone to date with prices achieved ranging from £15,500 to more than £60,000 dependant on condition.

“This is the highest hammer price we have achieved so far and deservedly so,” he said. “It was the best hardback first edition of Philosopher’s Stone I have ever seen.”