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J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter book series is arguably the most popular children’s book series ever created. It has caught the imagination of children all over the world’s since the first book ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was first published in 1997.
Last year, a first edition copy of The Philosopher’s Stone was sold to an unknown collector for a record breaking £60,186 – this is 5,000 times more than its original value of £10.99.
The previous record amount of money paid for an unsigned first edition ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ was £42,130. What makes this particular book valuable?
‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was published on the 30th of June 1997 by London based publisher, Bloomsbury. There were only 500 hardback covers with laminated boards printed, 300 of these books were sent to libraries and the rest were publicly sold. This means there are 200 books that went into general circulation.
Of course more of these books were reprinted, but the subsequent print editions are less valuable than first edition prints. There were only a few thousand first edition softcover books that were printed. These also have some value, but it is lower than the first hardback books that came off the printing press first in 1997
#1.The publisher has to be listed as Bloomsbury.
#2. The latest date on the copyright information section of the title page has to be 1997.
#3. The copyright page should have a print line that counts down to 1, I e “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”. The last number indicates the edition, so if yours has a line that reads “20 19 18 17 16 15 14” then its a 14th print edition which is less valuable.
#4. The name “Joanne Rowling” appears on the copyright page instead of J.K Rowling.
#5. The book has a mistake on page 53. The school supplies list that Harry receives has two entries of “1 wand”. This mistake was corrected in the second prints of the book.
#6. This Harry Potter book will have Dumbledore with a brown beard on the back cover.
#7. It will have the illustrator’s name Thomas Taylor, 1997.
#8. Front cover will have a black strip with a comment written by Wendy Cooking or a blurb about the gold Smarties award.
If you have a ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ that has all the attributes, then congratulations, you may have a book that may be worth tens of thousands. To date more than 120 million copies of this book were sold making it one of the best selling books of all time.
Other books in the Harry Potter book series are valued a little differently. The first major difference is that only hardback, first edition books with a dust jacket have the most collectable value.
The Chamber Of Secrets was first published in 1998 by Bloomsbury. To date, 77 million copies of this Harry Potter book were sold worldwide. A collectable edition will have the “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” printing sequence on the copyright page. First edition ‘Chamber of Secrets’ copies usually has the ‘Smarties’ sticker on the front. Prices for original, hardcover first edition ‘Chamber of Secrets’ copies fetch four to five figures on the market. You can get up to £6,500 at auctions.
The first edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ was printed in 1999, again by Bloomsbury. First edition copies with the printing sequence counting down to 1 with the name “Joanne Rowling” as the author on the copyright page have the most value.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was printed in 2000.
When this book came out, JK Rowling was a global phenomenon. She was doing fewer book tours and signing fewer books. Limited editions with the original illustrations by Giles Greenfield are more valuable. There are Scholastic US editions with illustrations by Mary GrandPre are more valuable because only 25 copies were printed. If you have a signed copy then you can get four figures for it. A standard first edition copy doesn’t fetch much. The least you can expect for it is £10.
The Order of the Phoenix which was published in 2003 isn’t as valuable as the previous books. There were thousands, if not millions of first edition copies printed. This makes the book less valuable.
However, true Potter fans and collectors are always looking for the rare copies that were signed by the author at the Edinburgh midnight launch of the book in 2003. These can fetch up to four figures. Aside from those, quality first editions of the order of the phoenix are worth about £50.
The sixth book in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter And The Half-blood Prince isn’t worth much. You can probably pick up a first edition of the book for £6. This means you won’t get much for a first edition book unless there is some outstanding feature about the book. Illustrated deluxe editions can be worth hundreds. A standard edition of Half-blood Prince in pristine condition can fetch £50 but that depends on the condition and on the demand.
The last Harry Potter book in the series was printed in 2007. There are over 65 million books in circulation. The number of first editions is huge. You can get a good price for a first edition that has unusual cover designs like that of the adult and deluxe versions. These can fetch between £50 and £100.
The bottom line is that if you have a first edition Harry Potter book then chances are you can get some good money for it. The first three books are the most valuable in the series and the value increases for books with the author’s signature.
Note that there are lots of books out there that have printing errors and abnormalities like having upside covers. This does not make them rare and collectable. Book collectors aren’t interested in abnormalities.
If you have first editions of the later books signed by the main Harry Potter actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grin and Emma Watson, you could get £500 – £1,000 based on those signatures.
So there you have it. If you think you may an have an old copy of a Harry Potter stashed away somewhere you might want to get it out of the attic, dust it off and make some serious money with it.