Rare copy of Harry Potter book found in Oxfordshire school library sells for over £18,000

A rare copy of a Harry Potter draft edition book found in an Oxfordshire school library has been sold at auction for £18,750.
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The uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, one of only 200 printed by Bloomsbury in 1997, was discovered this summer at St Kenelm’s Primary School in Minster Lovell, near Witney.

The book was reportedly purchased by the school for only £1 in 1997 but went missing for eight years, with many at the school believing it to have been mistakenly thrown away.

However, it turned up during a summer tidy-up and went under the hammer on September 5 at Hansons Auctioneers, selling for a remarkable £18,750 to a businessman from Faringdon.

Jim Spencer of Hanson's Auctions with the rare copy of The Philosopher's Stone.Jim Spencer of Hanson's Auctions with the rare copy of The Philosopher's Stone.
Jim Spencer of Hanson's Auctions with the rare copy of The Philosopher's Stone.

Jim Spencer, head of books at Hansons, said: "I never doubted it would sell. Whether or not you like Harry Potter, you can’t deny the impact it had and its place in literary history because it got kids not only reading but queuing up for the latest books, writing fan mail, and going to book signings. It’s hard to imagine.

"This uncorrected proof represents the start of that phenomenon, and it’s really scarce—only 200 were printed. This is exactly why we have reserves in place. I had a duty of care to the vendor and the school, and it would’ve been wrong to let a dealer grab a bargain for a quick sale when I knew the potential market value.

"What I couldn’t have predicted was this fairy-tale ending with the book staying at home in Oxfordshire and being shared with the public."

The businessman who purchased the book plans to use it to boost tourism in the town of Faringdon.

He said: "I am tremendously happy to have acquired such an iconic and important text and to be able to keep it in the county for others to enjoy. The main reason for the purchase is to increase visitors to Faringdon.

"We have a partnership with Faringdon Town Council and hope to be able to display the book in the town museum, which is located in the old pump house, in the coming months. Faringdon has much to offer, and we hope this acquisition will give the town and the school in Minster Lovell from which it was acquired a welcome boost."