The owner nearly returned the book because it didn’t have a dust jacket (Picture: PA)
A pristine, unread first-edition Harry Potter novel, which was almost returned to a bookshop 25 years ago, has fetched £69,000 at auction.
The Philosopher’s Stone hardback by JK Rowling, bought in 1997, had been stored in the dark, unopened and in a protective sleeve, ever since.
But its owner almost let it slip through his fingers when he nearly returned it to ask for his £12.99 back because it didn’t have a dust jacket.
The ‘good-as-new’ copy, one of only 500 printed, went under the hammer today at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire.
It was sold to an online bidder in the USA and had been expected to fetch upwards of £40,000.
The seller, 66, a retired paper merchant director from West Sussex, admitted he kept the book ‘on the toss of the coin’ after believing it had a fatal flaw.
He said: ‘It didn’t have a dust jacket and I thought it should.
‘I was really disappointed when I went to pick it up. I’m a collector and, being a first edition, I expected it to have one.
Auctioneer Jim Spencer said that with the sale ‘everything added up perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. It was like stepping back in time to 1997’ (Picture: PA)
‘I decided to keep the book on the toss of a coin. It was a moment of destiny.
‘I remember standing in the doorway debating whether to keep it.
‘I took it home and tucked it away in darkness on a high bookshelf to keep it from prying eyes but, more importantly, because the paper in the book is poor quality.
‘I was told to keep it away from sunlight to prevent it going brown.
‘I’ve really looked after it. It’s in the best condition it possibly can be — almost perfect, I would say. It’s never been read.
‘A year after I bought it, with Harry Potter excitement growing at my daughter’s school, she asked if she could read it.
‘I said no, absolutely not.’
The book was inspected carefully before the sale (Picture: PA)
‘It’s not easy to part with. Collectors have difficulty selling their prized possessions,’ he confessed.
Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer said: ‘I receive countless Potter enquiries every single day, but this one had grabbed me and I hoped it would be right.
‘My only fear was that it was too good to be true. I inspected the book closely, again and again, comparing it with two other first issues of the same work, studying the covers and text with a magnifying glass.
‘Everything added up perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. It was like stepping back in time to 1997.’
He added: ‘I’m delighted for our vendor. It’s certainly a good return for the £12.99 he paid for the book — and he nearly asked for his money back because he thought it had a fatal flaw.’
Auctioneer owner Charles Hanson said previously: ‘It could well be the most pristine hardback first issue of Philosopher’s Stone ever offered at auction.’
Another copy — which cost 50p from a charity shop and was covered in children’s doodles — went for £15,500 in the same sale.
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