A rare, first-edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – one of just 500 original copies, of which 300 were destined for British libraries – set a world record when it sold for $81,250 during Heritage Auctions’offering of rare books Sept. 14 in Dallas. Frenzied bidding pushed numerous lots well past their pre-auction estimates, propelling the total sales in the event to nearly $2 million.
“We are very pleased with the performance of Genre fiction in our auction, continuing on our earlier successes in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery and Detective Literature,” Heritage Auctions Rare Books Director James Gannon said. “Heritage is extremely strong in presenting and marketing these books, and by now we have the attention of the rare book market and a large following of enthusiastic bidders.”
A swarm of bidders pursued the first edition of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone until it more than quadrupled its pre-auction estimate before finally hammering at $81,250. Presented as originally sold, without a dust jacket, the volume also set the world record for the highest price paid for an unsigned work of fiction published in the last 50 years.
“We have sold great Harry Potter titles – not to mention chairs – in the past, but we never really paid attention to such a thing as a world record,” Gannon said. “This recent copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone surpassed the earlier record of approximately $60,000 by more than 30 percent. It very well may be the highest price obtained at auction for any unsigned work of literature published in the past 50 years.”
Other top lots included, but were not limited to:
- Hartmann Schedel’s 1493 Liber cronicarum cum figuris et ymaginibus from The Nuremberg Chronicle: $50,000
- A 1926 first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: $25,000
- Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes [In The All-Story, Vol. XXIV, No. 2]: $28,750
- John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, From Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories: $28,750
- A 1937 first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Or There and Back Again: $28,750
- A 1919 first edition of T.S. Eliot’s Ara Vos Prec inscribed by Eliot on the half-title: “for my mother / Charlotte C. Eliot / T.S. Eliot.”: $57,500
- A 1929 first edition of Red Harvest, the first book written by Dashiell Hammett: $50,625