Why did Harry Potter book sell for £43,750?

Very rare first edition fetches a world record price for a Harry Potter book Is there one on your shelf?

Britain Book Sale

A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold at auction - fetching a record-breaking £43,750. It vastly outstripped the estimate of up to £20,000, but why was it so special?

The book, bought by a London businessman, was sold by Bonhams. Its extraordinary value lay in the fact that not only was it a first edition of the first Harry Potter, it was also a particularly rare first edition in excellent condition.

The print run can be recognised by the fact it has the numbering of 10 to 1 on the back page - known as the verso - and the back cover features a typo. The second 'o' is missing from the word 'Philosopher's', so it reads: 'Acclaim for Harry Potter And The Philospher's Stone'.

Bonhams Books and Manuscripts senior specialist Simon Roberts, said: "This was an exceptional price for a much-loved modern classic. The book was in excellent condition which added to its appeal for collectors and I am not surprised that it attracted so much interest and such intense bidding."

What's yours worth?

The sale has naturally inspired many people to rush to their bookshelves to check whether they have thousands of pounds worth of books lying around. If you're going to work out what your collection is worth, you need to know what to look for.

The real gems are the hardcover first edition first printings from 1997. There were only 500 of them and 300 were sent to libraries, so they are very rare. Book collectors love rarities, so if you have one of these - with a line that counts down from 10 to one, and the author listed as Joanne Rowling rather than JK Rowling, then there's a good chance that your book will be worth anything up to £43,750 - depending on the condition.

The best prices are for the first book, but you can still get a decent chunk of cash for later books. The first edition Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets from 1998 can fetch up to £7,000.

The third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban offers a valuable opportunity, because the first hardcover print run had to be stopped when it emerged the book was credited to Joanne Rowling rather than JK Rowling. If you have one of the accidental printings, your book could be worth more than £1,000.

There are far more first editions of the later books, so for them to be worth a decent sum, they have to be the first of the first editions - or signed. If you have a first edition in fantastic condition, it may still be worth more than you paid for it, but you'll not be able to retire on the proceeds of a sale.

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