London booksellers Peter Harrington have been inundated with emails since it emerged that a rogue wand, misprinted on a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, could make some copies very rare. Pom Harrington explains how to spot an unusual copy
“In June 1997 the first edition was published in two issues. There was a hardback issue, with 500 copies issued. At the same time they issued the paperback in greater numbers: 5,150 copies.
They both used the same sheets, and therefore, actually, what happened was that 5,650 sheets that made up the two versions, both issued at the same time. The hardback is truly the most collectible one – it’s certainly the most valuable one and what most collectors want to have.
The cover is very important. This binding was only actually used in the first two impressions. On the back cover you have the artwork of the wizard, which was used all the way through for the next two years.
The artist never actually knew or read the book, so he just drew a picture of a wizard. In 1999 this was changed to Professor Dumbledore.
Most importantly, it needs to have Bloomsbury down on the title page. There’s textually one other point which is quite important: there was a misprint on page 53. They list one wand twice. That was an error which you will not see on the second impressions.
I understand the error creeps back in with later printings but you definitely need to have this mistake combined with the ten-to-one sequence on the notes on the inner page and the binding. If you see a dust jacket, it’s been supplied by a later print.
In terms of value, they vary greatly depend on condition. Of the 500 that were issued in hardback, about 300 were sent to libraries and schools.
They were just read, they got trashed and library-stamped, which means, we think, that there are only about 200 copies in circulation that would look like this, which is fundamentally collectible condition.
The book deteriorates badly when read and the truly high values that you might read about are for copies that are virtually unread with no real wear at all. The hardbacks run about ten times the value of the paperback.”
The first edition, first print
- The publisher must be listed as Bloomsbury at the bottom of the title page
- The latest date listed in the copyright information must be 1997
- The print line on the copyright page must read “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”, ten down to one, exactly. The lowest figure in the print line indicates the printing
- The book must be printed in the UK
Visit Peter Harrington’s blog for more.
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