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Harry Potter first edition sells for £60,000 - Here's how to tell if you have one


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We're all by now familiar with JK Rowling's famous boy wizard Harry Potter, most of us children of the 90s grew up with Harry and even if you haven't read the books, it's likely you will have seen the movies or at least heard about the series.

But for those of us who have been hoarding copies of the books for years, good news came this week. A first edition copy of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone sold at auction for a whopping £60,186. The book was sold in Dallas, Texas by rare book specialists Heritage Auction House. It sets a new world record for the highest price obtained at auction for any piece of unsigned work published in the past 50 years, and fetched nearly 30% more than the previous record holder. The taking of £60,186 is more than 5000 times its original price tag.

Heritage had sold a signed edition of the same book in 2009, but it fetched far less than the edition sold this week, at only £14,000, despite the signature.

There are only 500 of these first edition Harry Potter books out there, published by Bloomsbury in 1997. 300 of them are believed to have gone to libraries, so that leaves 200 out there to find. Here's how to tell if you're one of the lucky ones: 

1. The publisher has to be Bloomsbury. If it's anyone else, then sorry, your book isn't a first edition.

2. The latest date on the copyright page has to be 1997.

3. The print line on the page must read: "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1"

4. Check page 53. The item 1 wand was listed twice in Harry's list of required school supplies. This mistake was corrected in later editions of the book.

If you're like me and you've read your copy of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone cover to cover a thousand times, it's unlikely even if it is a first edition that it will make as much as the one that sold at auction. The book that was sold was kept in pristine condition and even the auction house remarked that it was "an exceptionally nice copy". It is unlikely that our well-thumbed childhood copies of Harry Potter, even if they were first editions, would fetch quite the same price tag as the one that sold in Texas. Still, if you have a decently preserved copy, it might be worth checking. If it is a first edition, then you could be in a for a big payday! 

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