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Harry Potter book bought for 13p at second-hand book shop fetches five-figure sum at auction

A Harry Potter book bought for 13p at a second-hand book shop 27 years ago has achieved a five-figure sum at auction.

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Jim Spencer, head of books at Hansons Auctioneers, with the Harry Potter proof copy

The scarce uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was a ‘throw-in’ with a couple of other books.

Together they cost the lucky owner 40p in 1997, and she didn’t even particularly notice she’d bought it at the time.

But what she’s since described as ‘a massive piece of well-timed luck’ reaped dividends at Hansons Auctioneers during an auction at Bishton Hall in Staffordshire today.

After sparking worldwide publicity, the book achieved a premium inclusive total of £14,432 at the firm’s Staffordshire saleroom (hammer price £11,000).

It was purchased by a private UK buyer.

The title page mistakenly states the author’s name as J A Rowling instead of J K Rowling

Hansons’ world-renowned Potter expert Jim Spencer said: “This book so deserved to do well.

"This proof copy is where the Harry Potter phenomenon began.

"This is the very first appearance in print of the first Potter novel. The title page mistakenly states the author’s name as J A Rowling; instead of J K Rowling and, on the other side, Joanne Rowling.

"The author's signing tours, the midnight queues outside bookshops, the movies, the merchandise - it all stems from this.

Uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sold for a total of £13,860

“It was an incredibly lucky buy for our client all those years ago. In reality it cost her 13p as it was sold together with two other books for the princely price of 40p! A touch of Potter magic perhaps.”

The 52-year-old seller, who originates from London but now lives in Bologna, Italy, said: “In 1997, when I was 26, I had just got back to the UK and was living in Crystal Palace in London. I didn’t have much money but I always liked to treat myself to a browse round second-hand bookshops on Saturday mornings.

“I dropped into one of my usual haunts, one of the second-hand bookshops just off the main road in Crystal Palace, looking for some Agatha Christies. Piles of books were all jumbled up in baskets on the floor with a maximum price of 40p.

“The Harry Potter book was among the piles - maybe even by accident - as all the rest were Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh etc, as far as I remember. I bought it as a throw-in with a couple of other titles - 40p for all three. I don’t think I even looked at it properly to tell the truth.

“Since then, it’s followed me round to China, Taiwan, the UK and now Italy being packed and unpacked - without being read.

"It ended up stuck behind a shelf in my bedroom until, for no good reason again other than the fact my kids were turning into Harry Potter fans, I went looking for it. Even the kids haven’t read it – there are four of them aged from 12 to 25. They always unfortunately – or fortunately in this case – preferred the films.

“I was bored one night and scrolling on the internet when a story popped up about the incredible prices achieved for Potter books, so I decided to contact Jim Spencer to see whether my book might be valuable. Finding it when I did was just a massive piece of well-timed luck for which I will always be grateful and more than a tad surprised.”