Rare Harry Potter book sells for £33,000 at auction after being found in a skip

Roisin O'Connor
Front cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Getty Images

A first edition of the first book in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series has sold for £33,000 at auction, after the owner discovered it in a skip.

The rare hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was found in a skip in 2008 by a teacher at school in Buckinghamshire, and stored in her loft.

The copy was sold with four other books from the series, which had also been thrown away.

Just 500 copies of The Philosopher’s Stone were printed in 1997. The book sold at auction had an estimated price of £8,000 to £12,000.

Two first editions of The Philosopher’s Stone sold for £3,400 and £3,000, while first editions of The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban fetched £360. The auction took place online and by phone due to lockdown restrictions.

The anonymous seller said: “To say I’m pleased is an understatement. Due to its condition, we thought £20,000 would be a good result. We watched the auction and the price just kept going up and up.”

“I love books and reading and it just seemed awful to throw them away, so I picked up about five Harry Potter books,” she continued. “I thought they might be useful for my children or grandchildren in the future. It was better than seeing them go to waste.”

JK Rowling recently revealed where she first started writing the Harry Potter books, contradicting fans who believed for years that Edinburgh was its birthplace.

The Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh is widely regarded as the place the now 54-year-old author wrote the first of the seven fantasy novels.

While it is true that Rowling used to frequent the cafe in the early days of her writing career, the author revealed yesterday (21 May) that she actually started the series in London, in a flat above a sports shop in Clapham.

Referring to the sign on Elephant House which reads “birthplace of Harry Potter”, Rowling tweeted: “I’d been writing Potter for several years before I ever set foot in this cafe, so it’s not the birthplace, but I *did* write in there so we’ll let them off!”

Rowling then shared a picture of the Clapham flat where she started her writing process. “This is the true birthplace of Harry Potter,” she said. “If you define ‘birthplace’ as the spot where I put pen to paper for the first time.”

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