Harry Potter book bought for a penny could sell for thousands

A Harry Potter book which was bought for a penny and is signed by JK Rowling is expected to sell at auction for up to £2,500.

The first edition of Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets was bought on Amazon and is now up for sale at Hanson’s Auctioneers on Thursday.

Mark Cavoto, 51, a businessman who owns around 1,500 books from the series, ordered the collector’s item for a penny plus postage without realising it was signed.

The father of five has bought and sold around 3,000 Harry Potter books since his daughter, Holly, now 25, began collecting them and he realised they could be sold at a high asking price.

Mark Cavoto with some of his Harry Potter books
Mark Cavoto with some of his Harry Potter books

Mr Cavoto, from Buxton, Derbyshire, said: “When Holly was a child, she loved Harry Potter books and started her own collection.

“About 10 years ago, we decided to sell some of her older books and three of them were snapped up within 20 minutes on eBay for £9.99 each.

“I’m a businessman with a shop in Buxton and I knew this was a business opportunity.

“I checked the ISBN numbers and sourced the same three books second-hand on Amazon, bought them for a penny each plus postage and sold them in minutes for £9.99 each on eBay.”

Mr Cavoto, who helps collectors source items through his business Partworks Collectables, said he was buying around 10 books a day when he came across the signed copy with Holly.

He said: “Holly liked to open all the Jiffy bags.

“One day she glanced at a book she’d just opened and said, ‘This is no good, it’s got ink on it’.

“She carried on opening the others then went back to it.

“She stared at me and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s been signed by JK Rowling – and it’s a first impression’.

“I thought she was messing with me but it was true.

“It was signed ‘To Alexandra, JK Rowling’ and was a 1998 hardback first edition of Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets, the second novel in the series.”

Mr Cavoto has struck lucky with the books before, when he spent one pence on a copy of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone from the second print run, which sold for £4,600.

He said: “It’s as rare as the 500 books in the first print run.

“I decided to advertise it for £5,000 and an Australian dealer offered £4,600 for the book I’d paid a penny for.

“I snapped his hand off and used the money to start Partworks Collectables.”

Mr Cavoto said collectors like to have the same book from every print run to complete their haul.

At Hanson’s Auctioneers’ sale on Thursday, Mr Cavato is selling the first 10 hardback editions of Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets for an estimated value of between £600 and £800.

The auctioneer company based in Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, also sold a rare first edition of Harry Potter And Tthe Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the series, for £57,040 in October.

This book was in high demand because only 500 were printed, and most went to schools and libraries.

Jim Spencer, book expert at Hanson’s, said: “We’ve had phenomenal success with Harry Potter books this year – so much so I’m still getting about 50 emails a day from people who think their copy may be valuable.

“I’m delighted Mark has come to us with his amazing story and some of his books.

“He must have amassed the biggest collection of Harry Potter novels in the world.”