Gen X and Millennials love their books and toys, but don’t we all? My generation loves their Barbies and G. I. Joes. The 70’s and 80’s collectibles of Star Wars toys are also setting records. My nieces fell in love with Harry Potter books when their grandmother (my mom, Mary Helen) bought them the first American printing of J. K. Rowling’s, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in October 1998. Each new release “MeMe” bought them the new book. That American first printing of The Sorcerer’s Stone is now worth about $6500 (it has its dust jacket and is in fine to near fine condition).
The second book, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” can be worth up to $9000. If you are among the few who happen to have a First Printing First Edition of the UK edition of the first book, which was called, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, you really have a treasure! Auction prices for this book have been rising dramatically over recent months. Heritage Auctions in Dallas sold one on September 14 for $81,250. This particular book did not have a dust jacket, but was in fine condition. The reason the UK editions are worth so much more than US printings is due to the number printed. The first printings of this book in the UK only consisted of 500 books and 300 of them were distributed to libraries. The publisher had no idea that the book would be so popular. When the book was successful in the United Kingdom, United States publishers printed thousands of books on the first release; hence, the lower value. The first four books in the Harry Potter series are highly sought after. The value goes down with each release due to large numbers that are available, but they are still worth several hundred dollars. The original list price was $25.95.
How do you tell if you have a first printing of the first edition of a Harry Potter book? Go to the copyright page and look at the series of numbers printed on that page. A UK printing should have a print line that reads “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” and credits of “Joanne Rowling” rather than JK. Hardcover first editions of the American version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone—check for the number line of 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02″ on the copyright page, along with “Printed in the U.S.A.23″ and “First American edition, October 1998. The third book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, had some early prints of this book mistakenly printed with “Joanne Rowling” rather than “JK Rowling” on the copyright page. Naturally, this screw-up renders this version of the book far more valuable—signed copies in excellent condition can go for up to $12,000. Again, look for that 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 number line. For the fourth book, “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire”, look for the limited editions with original watercolor illustrations by Giles Greenfield (Bloomsbury’s UK edition) and Mary GrandPre (Scholastic’s US edition, of which only 25 copies were made). They will be worth four digits. A first edition, first US Printing book should fetch three digits. Look for the 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 and 0/0 01 02, etc. It will have a maroon board with a black cloth binding. The number 4 will be embossed in gold on the binding and the dust jacket. The original price of $25.95 will be printed on the inside fold, upper corner of the dust jacket.
I happen to have a client who has a US first printing of this fourth book for sale for $150. Let me know if you are interested.