JK Rowling began writing the book in 1990 and finished the manuscript in 1995. She submitted it to 12 publishing houses all of which rejected it before it was accepted and published by Bloomsbury on 26th June 1997.
Despite the deal, Rowling was allegedly advised to get a day job as it was unlikely she would make any money from the book. Bloomsbury did not think Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone would be a great seller and so only initially printed 500 hardback copies of the book and 5,150 paperbacks which were all released on the same day.
These first edition hardbacks are very rare and of the 500 copies published about 300 copies were sent to schools and libraries and are no longer in a good condition. This means that the other 200 copies have become quite valuable and especially those which remain unread. Twenty years ago the hardback book was for sale for £10.99 and today rare bookseller Peter Harrington estimate a good first edition of one of these first printed copies would be worth upwards of £50,000.
There were almost 10 times more paperbacks than hardbacks printed and the value of these books reflects this. Twenty years ago the paperback cost £4.99 and today good first edition copies sell for over £4,000.
Is your Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone valuable?
Peter Harringon currently has two original first edition paperbacks for sale for £4,950 and £4,250. The bookseller is frequently asked by customers whether their copy of the book is valuable, and offers the following advice:
- The publisher must be listed as Bloomsbury at the bottom of the title page
- The latest date listed in the copyright information must be 1997
- The print line on the copyright page must read “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”, ten down to one, exactly. The lowest figure in the print line indicates the printing. (For instance, if your copy has “20 19 18 17”, it is a seventeenth printing and has no collectable value)
- On page 53 “1 wand” must appear twice in the list
- The book must be printed in the UK, not Canada, Australia or anywhere else.
Peter Harrington also has a range of other Harry Potter books for sale, which give an indication of the value they can attract.
A Complete set of Harry Potter novels inscribed by JK Rowling
Each volume is inscribed by the author on the title page, with the first six volumes inscribed “To Louisa, J. K. Rowling”, and the final volume inscribed “To Louisa, with love, J. K. Rowling”. The set is accompanied by a letter of provenance from Fiddy Henderson, Rowling’s P.A. Peter Harrington say “It is unusual to encounter a complete set of Harry Potter books inscribed to the same recipient.” (£12,500)
Complete Deluxe First Edition set of the Harry Potter Collector’s Edition: (£2,500)
A Complete Deluxe Collector’s First Edition set of Harry Potter books
These have all been finely bound by the Chelsea Bindery in their original colours and each volume has been beautifully and carefully enhanced with an inset leather onlay after the original cover image. The covers have been further decorated as the original, with gilt lettering. Each volume is presented within its own matching leather entry slipcase. (£18,000)
The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2008)
A first edition, limited issue book which has been signed by JK Rowling and has the authentication hologram to show her signature is genuine. This specially bound edition includes a portfolio of ten additional prints by Rowling that were not issued with either the trade edition or the manuscript editions. Peter Harrington say “This is an uncommon book as it is signed: there was only one signing event for this book, at the National Library of Scotland with two hundred children, selected through a lottery, attended the signing.” (£7,500)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
This is a first deluxe edition, first impression book which was inscribed by JK Rowling “To Mark, Happy 8th Birthday! With Love from, Jo. (J.K. Rowling) (but really from Thomas, Daragh, Catriona, Deidre & Gerry!)” (£4,500)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
This is a first edition of the fifth Harry Potter novel, a sparkling example of the Chelsea Bindery’s work. (£2,500)