Your Harry Potter Book Set Could Be Worth A Ton A Money

The year 1998 was quite a magical one. After its release in Britain in 1997, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" — the inaugural book of what would become J.K. Rowling's successful seven-part series — hit store shelves across the United States, with readers of all ages clamoring to get their hands on this fascinating tale about The Boy Who Lived.

Advertisement

As a new author, Rowling's debut novel saw a first printing of 50,000 copies, which sold at retail for $19.95. However, word spread fast about Hogwarts, with all of its charm and danger, and readership grew beyond 50,000, to say the least. According to Scholastic, among all seven "Harry Potter" books, more than 500 million copies have sold worldwide, with 180 million in just the U.S. In fact, if one were to line up every single "Harry Potter" book ever purchased, the novels would wrap around the equator (the circumference of which is 24,901 miles) at least 16 times.

It's common for a "Harry Potter" reader, especially one who grew up immersed in the wizarding world, to cherish their book set — and even break it out every few years (or annually) to rediscover the magic. However, some may want to handle their books extra carefully, as there's a chance they could be worth a large chunk of money.

Advertisement

First printings of the first book are valuable

Although Americans know J.K. Rowling's debut novel as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," this wasn't its original title. When it was released in Britain in 1997, it was titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," but was altered to better attract U.S. audiences.

Advertisement

Only 500 hardcover first edition, first printings of the 1997 version were published, making them extremely rare and highly coveted by serious Potter collectors (similar to how Barbie lovers hope to someday acquire these valuable dolls). These books have sold for, on average, between $40,000 and $120,000. For those wondering if they have one of these rare first printings in their possession, they should look for the following: a copyright page that bears a line with the numbers 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, and Rowling being credited as Joanne Rowling. As for the U.S. version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," a first edition, first printing, which reads "First American edition, October 1998" on the copyright page, can fetch upward of $15,000 if it features the signature of Rowling (is her autograph one of the most valuable ever sold?).

Advertisement

While first edition, first printings of the subsequent Potter books can also land the owner a pretty penny (a coin that costs more to make than it's worth), these aren't as scarce and, therefore, have less value. A hardcover first edition, first printing of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the second in the series, for example, may be worth upward of $7,000.

The most-expensive Harry Potter books ever sold

Over the years, numerous owners of those rare first edition, first printings of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" have been stunned to learn the value of what they have in their home. In 2019, one was sold at an auction for $90,227. This copy is extremely rare for a number of reasons. Not only was it once owned by J.K. Rowling's first literary agent Christopher Little, but the book also includes typos, misspellings, and artwork of a generic, brown-haired wizard on the back cover, rather than the white-haired Albus Dumbledore.

Advertisement

Then, in 2020, Charlotte Rumsey was simply helping her mother in Blackpool downsize, when she stumbled upon a copy. Her mom had kept the book on the shelf for 17 years, and intended to sell it for less than a dollar alongside other discarded knickknacks. However, after Rumsey had witnessed a "Harry Potter" book sell for $22,000 on "Antiques Roadshow," they thought twice. The book ended up being sold by Hansons Auctioneers for $84,500. Rumsey said (via BBC News), "Things like this don't happen to normal families like us."

One year later, another first-edition copy of "Philosopher's Stone" in almost pristine condition sold via Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, for a whopping $471,000 and made history. Joe Maddalena, executive vice president at Heritage, explained the sale's significance in a statement, "Not only is it the most expensive 'Harry Potter' book ever sold, it's the most expensive commercially published 20th-century work of fiction ever sold" (via Reuters).

Advertisement

Recommended

Advertisement