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Your old Harry Potter books could be worth a fortune if they have this typo

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Megan Murray
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How much are Harry Potter books worth?

Don’t discount that dusty old Harry Potter book, it could be funding your next holiday. 

It’s been over 20 years since the first in JK Rowling’s magical series of books was published. So if we had to take a guess, we’d imagine that if you did read the likes of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a child, your well-thumbed copy is probably on a forgotten bookshelf or in the corner of an attic.

Well, it might be time to go rummaging, because a recent sale of a rare copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has shown just how much those first editions are worth, and you could have one sitting underneath your nose.

The book in question was actually picked up by its owner for a mere £1 at a second hand book shop, but has sold for approximately £28,500 at auction, after the owner realised it was one of the first to ever be printed. 

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Books within the same batch as the one that just sold are instantly recognisable because of two distinctive typos, one of which can be seen from the outside. First, check the back cover where (if the book is a limited edition copy) the word “philosopher” will be spelled wrong. 

Next, flick to page 53 where a supply list of magical items has an accidental repeat of “1 wand”. Instead of being referred to as JK Rowling, on the earlier printed editions the author is known as Joanne. And finally, the publisher must be Bloomsbury, the date on the copyright page must be 1997 and the print line on the page must read: “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.”

Although the owner of the book which sold at auction has decided to stay anonymous, it is reported by CNN that she invited Hansons Auctioneers in Staffordshire to value a large amount of books, include the rare Harry Potter tome. 

Jill Gallone, head of media at Hansons Auctioneers, spoke to the news outlet outlining the above tips for spotting a rare edition and confirming that these editions are considered rare because many went to schools and libraries, as Rowling’s masterpiece wasn’t nearly as celebrated then. 

Gallone says: “When the owner bought it all those years ago, nobody knew that Harry Potter would turn out to be this popular.”

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Explaining why these rare editions, of which there are only 500 in the world, are so sought after, Gallone says: “It’s just simply that people love the Harry Potter stories all over the world. Rowling wrote a story that the whole world loved. This is a book from the very start of her journey.”

And while you’re digging around in your attic looking for an old copy, we recommend checking out any past-it Disney video tapes and DVDs or Polly Pockets, which have also been known to fetch a pretty penny online. 

Images: Nathan Dumlao

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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