Old copies of Harry Potter novels may have sentimental value for the owners, but they could also be worth a mint. Find out how to tell.
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It hasn’t yet been 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in Britain. That’s not a terribly long time, but the fame of the series is such that early editions of the novels may already be worth a lot of money.
If you happen to have one of these editions, and think that the value of selling it for a tidy profit outweighs the sentimental value of keeping it, AbeBooks’ guide to how much certain editions are worth may be useful.
First up, hardcover first editions of the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone could fetch anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000. Only 500 were published, and 300 went to libraries, so if you have one, go ahead and treat yourself to a nice dinner. You can afford it.
This edition has 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 Philosopher’s Stone, retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, are worth between $4,000 and $6,500—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.”
Hardcover first editions of the second book in Rowling’s series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, can go for up to $9,000. If you’re lucky enough to have a signed copy of any of these books, the chances of scoring on the higher end of these scales go up.
Some early prints of this book mistakenly write “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.
By this point in her career, Rowling was signing fewer copies of her books, busy as she was becoming queen of the literary world. Any signed copy of Goblet of Fire will fetch a fine price, but to fetch a payout of over $10,000, look for the limited editions with original watercolour illustrations by Giles Greenfield (Bloomsbury’s UK edition) and Mary GrandPre (Scholastic’s US edition, of which only 25 copies were made).
Signed copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix can go for four figures.
Signed copies of Half-Blood Prince, meanwhile, can fetch up to $5,000. Good luck finding them, though. By the time these books were coming out, Rowling was well past the point where she ever needed to go on a book tour again.
Now please excuse me while I rummage through my old copies. For more details on what to look for, check out AbeBooks’ guide.