Rare first edition of first Harry Potter book to go under auction for £30,000

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Only 500 copies of the first edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ were printed  (Chiswick Auctions/SWNS)
Only 500 copies of the first edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ were printed (Chiswick Auctions/SWNS)

An extremely rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling’s very first book of her wizarding world, will go on auction for £30,000.

The coveted book is one of the most sought-after items in the world, as only 500 books were printed in the first run – 300 of which were sent to schools and children’s libraries.

The first edition copy is being sold by a private owner who has been in possession of the book since it was bought in 1997. It will be sold through Chiswick Auctions on 27 January.

According to online book marketplace AbeBooks, which specialises in rare books, hardcover first editions of the first Harry Potter book are characterised by a print line that reads 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 and the crediting of “Joanne Rowling” instead of JK.

The auction house is also selling a collection of children’s books including a signed copy of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and a signed copy of Newt Scamander: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them , both of which are set to fetch around £700.

The library of US novelist Paul Gallico also makes up part of the auction. The writer, best known for The Snow Goose and The Poseidon Adventure, is acknowledged to have inspired JK Rowling’s fictional creatures, Boggarts, and helped make James Bond an international success through his friendship with Ian Fleming.

Gallico’s 1968 book Manxmouse contained creatures called Clutterbumphs that turn into what the viewer fears the most, just like Boggarts.

The author’s role in the success of James Bond began when he was one of the first people to read a rough typescript of Casino Royale while Fleming was working as a journalist.

His feedback to Fleming was that the book “is a knockout” and led to Gallico helping promote the Bond author to an American audience.

Fleming gifted Gallico, who died in 1976, with signed first editions of his first novels. One of the two inscribed first editions that will go under the hammer is Casino Royale, signed “To Paul from Balzache 1953”, which refers to a literary joke based on “balls ache”.

The second novel is Diamonds Are Forever, in which Fleming wrote: “To Paul, who spread his wings over my first-born, 1956”.

In total, a complete set of eight Bond novels in their first editions, all signed by Fleming to Gallico, is set to fetch £60,000.

The Gallico library is being sold by the late author’s widow, Virginia, who is 97 years old. His estate in Antibes, France, where he died, had not been touched for nearly five decades.

Other items in the Gallico library that will go on sale are notes from Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and the Walt Disney Company. The folio has an estimate of £800 to £1,200.

Clive Moss, head of rare books at Chiswick Auctions, said: “The collection is a tangible reminder of a writer whose presence and works continue to [entertain and inspire] us so many years after his death.

“This is a fabulous opportunity to be part of the continuing story that was and is, Paul Gallico – a supreme writer and talent with an enduring quality that never fails to entice and capture our attention.”

Additional reporting by SWNS

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