'Magical' 1st edition copy of Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone sold for S$642,700 in auction

Only 500 such copies were printed.

Jason Fan | December 12, 2021, 11:33 AM

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If you happen to have a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone at home, you may be in luck.

A hardback British copy of the iconic book, released in 1997, was recently sold for US$471,000 (S$642,700) in an auction in the U.S.

According to Reuters, auctioneers called the deal a "world record price" for a work of fiction published in the 20th century.

Sold by an American collector

Only 500 copies with the specific binding were printed.

This particular copy had a colour illustration on the cover and was described by Heritage Auctions as "magical, incredibly bright and so very near pristine".

The book's final price was more than six times the pre-sale estimate of US$70,000 (S$95,500).

Reuters reported that previous auction prices for first edition copies of Harry Potter have ranged from about US$110,000 (S$150,000) to US$138,000 (S$188,000).

Even online, one can see many listings for first edition copies of the first instalment of the now iconic series, with prices on eBay reaching up to US$13,200 (S$18,000) for a paperback version, and a less pristine hardback issue being sold for GBP 81,250 (S$147,00).

Image via Sotheby's.

According to Reuters, the book was sold by an American collector, and the name of the buyer was not released.

How to spot a first edition copy

The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone can be identified by a rare error on page 53 of the book.

The protagonist Harry Potter was given a list of school supplies, and the item "1 wand" was repeated in the first edition of the book.

It was corrected in later editions of the book.

A first impression copy of the book also has the number sequence "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1" on the back of the title page.

If you have a copy of the book with the rare error and the same number sequence, you just might be sitting on a gold mine.

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Top image via Sotheby's and thepriceofsalt/Twitter.