News | April 21, 2024

Rare Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking, and J.M. Barrie Books at Sworders


One of the Harry Potter titles going to auction at Sworders

A rare paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone comes for sale at Sworders this month. The first edition, first impression printing of JK Rowling’s debut novel is expected to bring £2,000-3,000 as part of the April 28 auction of Books, Prints and Maps.

While it is well known that the first hardback printings of Philosopher's Stone can command huge sums, the very first paperback is also a great rarity. This is one of just 5,150 copies published on June 26, 1997, the same day the 500 hardback issues were issued. A generally clean copy in its wrappers, it has all the tell-tale signs of the first impression: a Bloomsbury imprint, the 10-down-to-1 number line, a space missing between the 'r' and '1' on Thomas Taylor 1997 and the misprint ‘Philospher's’ on the back cover. Perhaps most famously, the list of equipment required for a student at Hogwarts listed on page 53 erroneously includes ‘1 wand’ twice, at the beginning and the end of the list.

Some of the later editions of the wizarding series were printed in such large numbers that even very good first editions command relatively modest values. However, collectors can hope to own copies of the later titles signed by the author. There are three of these in Sworders’ sale including a first edition, first impression of The Goblet of Fire (2000) signed to the half title (estimate £700-900) and a first of Order of the Phoenix (2003) that is both signed and dated by JK Rowling to the title page (estimate £650-900). 

Although printed 10 years after it was first published, a 1998 copy of the Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is something of a rarity. Issued by Bantam Press, this Tenth Anniversary Edition, won at a Cambridge Evening News charity auction, was signed by Hawking himself with his thumbprint. It comes for sale with expectations of £300-500.

Another lot with a provenance that will add value is a collection of books removed from 23 Campden Hill Square. This was home of the Llewelyn Davies family, whose children JM Barrie befriended and who were the inspiration for the Darling children and the Lost Boys. The window at the top of the house inspired Tinkerbell's entrance into the children's bedroom. The quantity of books, that includes two editions of Peter Pan illustrated by Arthur Rackham, and numerous books by Barrie is guided at £100-200.