Harry Potter’s first appearance casts its spell at auction in Dallas

In the dozen years since he first appeared, no character has so fully captured the imagination of the modern world as the boy wizard Harry Potter.

On March 6, at Heritage Auction Galleries, a rare true first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – one of the original 200 copies in the publisher’s illustrated stiff wrappers from the initial 500 copy print run – will be auctioned, without reserve, as part of Heritage’s Signature Rare Books Auction.

“Not only is this the first edition, first issue of the greatest fantasy saga of our time,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage, “but it comes with an added bonus – an illustrated card duplicating the front cover art and signed by J. K. Rowling. Last October, we sold a first edition in the original wrappers almost exactly like this one for $10,755, but it was not accompanied by Rowling’s signature, making this copy even more desirable.

Once the original Harry Potter book became a phenomenon, and the movies went into perpetual production, the last six volumes of the Harry Potter series were all published in huge quantities to take advantage of the massive popularity. When author J.K. Rowling first got her saga of wizards, witches and muggles printed, however, her publisher, Bloomsbury, wasn’t so sure that the tale would strike a chord. Needless to say, the initial printing of 500 books was quickly scooped up, with most copies ending up in libraries, never to be seen again, and into the collections of Rowling’s friends.

“Books in Rowling’s famous series are not only popular among Potter fans, but book collectors in general are scrambling to find the original printings because of their current market value and their potential future appreciation,” said Gannon. “Truly rare books that are initially introduced to the public through small print runs have a tendency to increase their collectible value over the years. Just look at The Tale of Peter Rabbit or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, two books with very small first printings whose own cultural influence was similar to that of Harry Potter in our own time.”

Other highlights of the Heritage Rare Books Auction, March 6-7, include: Decretales Gregorii Papæ IX,  c. 1266, a Thirteenth-Century Italian Manuscript on Vellum of the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX; Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s original handwritten manuscript for his first science fiction novel, Prelude To Space, a rare relic from one of the greatest names in Sci-Fi; Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1778, two volumes, the rare second edition of this great classic of modern economic thought, one of only 500 copies printed; James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922, one of 750 first editions printed on handmade paper; and Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1929, one of 450 limited edition numbered copies signed by Virginia Woolf in her signature purple ink on the half title page.

To view this auction online, to read detailed descriptions and download fully enlargeable images, go to the Rare Books Catalog online at www.HA.com, or call 800-872-6467.

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J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. [London]: Bloomsbury, [1997]. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

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