A dad-of-three called Harry Potter is celebrating auction success after his rare copy of JK Rowling’s first book sold for a spell-binding £27,500.
Harry’s dad David bought the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 24 years ago because his eight-year-old son’s name was in the title.
The hardback copy was one of only 500 made in the first print run of the novel which was released in June 1997.
Harry kept the rare book in a sandwich bag under the stairs at his home for several years following the death of his dad from cancer in 2017.
But he decided to part with the precious novel in order to raise money to scatter his father’s ashes in Africa which was his final wish.
And despite being in well-thumbed condition, it sold to a private UK buyer today (Thurs) at Hansons Auctioneers, in Etwall, Derbs., for a hammer price of £22,000.
With buyer’s premium, the total paid by was £27,500.
Harry, 33, from Waterlooville, Hamps., who attended the sale, said: “I’m happy it sold.
“”We plan to use the proceeds to take my dad’s ashes to Kenya.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, added: “We’re delighted to deliver a happy ending, and add a new chapter to the Potter story.
“Considering its well-used, well-loved condition, the book did extremely well. I’m so pleased Harry and Katie can now use the proceeds to honour their father.
“And I’m delighted Hansons’ has sprinkled yet more Potter magic. It’s all down to the hard work of our hugely respected books expert Jim Spencer.
“He has uncovered and sold several rare Potter books and gained a formidable worldwide reputation for his expertise.”
The sales manager previously told how has spent the last 25 years trying to convince people that his name really is the same as the fictional boy wizard.
He said: “People just don’t believe me.
“When I was a young footballer, a referee threatened me with a red card for saying my name was Harry Potter.
“When I met my wife, Philippa on holiday in Greece, she didn’t believe me either.
“People think it’s a wind up. I’ve had the Mick taken out of me over the years but you get used to it.
“I’m quite outgoing and I’ve handled it pretty well, plus it has its pros.
“When I was 12 and the first Potter film was released, we were invited to be family of the week on the Big Breakfast TV show.
“I met lots of stars including Gwen Stefani and Ben Stiller.
“My current boss, Steve Barrett assumed my surname was Shaw because that’s my mum’s new married name and she works for him.
“When he found out I’m called Harry Potter he said he should have paid me more because people would always remember me.
“When you ring someone up and they ask your name they usually dissolve into laughter or say ‘you’re joking’. It makes making a complaint quite difficult.
“We think now’s the time to use the money to benefit our families and do something dad wanted.
“I have three small children – Hugo, five, Arthur, two and Maggie, 19 weeks – and my sister Katie has Freddie.
“Funnily enough Hugo and Arthur are both names of characters in Potter books but the choice was accidental.”
Proceeds from the sale of the book will also be shared with Harry’s sister Katie Sign, 36, an accountant and mum to Freddie, one, from Waterlooville.
Being four years older than Harry, she said she has vivid memories of the book’s arrival at the family home in 1997.
Katie said: “I remember dad bursting through the front door after work brandishing a book, proclaiming ‘you’ll never believe what I’ve got!’.
“At first glance we were confused. Had someone written a book for Harry? Our Harry Potter?
“Dad explained that he’d heard Terry Wogan mention Harry Potter on Radio 2 and, once he had gathered Terry was referring to an award-winning children’s’ book – not his then eight-year-old son – he turned his van round, drove straight to Bay Tree Bookshop in Waterlooville and bought us a copy.
“The novelty and coincidence of the namesake was what made us open that first book but the magic of the story kept us turning the pages for years.
“Harry was eight and I was 12 when we first read the books together.
“The book had pride of place on the windowsill next to my bed, and was eventually joined by the whole collection.
“They’ve stayed on a shelf or a windowsill in every house I’ve lived in for 20 years. It was treasure to us long before it had any value to the rest of the world.
“Our dad passed away at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer in October 2017, and we love and miss him dearly.
“It was shortly after this we realised the old book we’d loved and treasured for 20 years was a sought-after first edition copy.
“Our dad was a wise and loving man who believed the richest people were those who lived life to its fullest, and that experience had more value than money.
“Selling the book then, despite its financial value, was of no interest to us.
“It was one of few lasting, tangible treasures we had from our dad.
“So, the book was retired to a protective sandwich bag in the cupboard under the stairs, and there it remained for four years.
“Over time we realised the book had changed for us.
“We knew rare first editions were selling for tens of thousands of pounds. It wasn’t any longer something we could enjoy, or love, without fear of damaging it.
“We aren’t investors or collectors, we’re two grown-up kids who would like to enjoy life the way our dad prescribed – to its fullest.
“The book is the legacy dad left us to do that.
“With the proceeds from the sale, we would like to take dad’s ashes to Africa, the place he asked to finally rest, where we can make new and fantastic memories with our own children and families.”
Katie, who’s married to Olympic sailor Alain Sign, added: “Freddie’s middle name is George. We chose it because we thought it just sounded right.
“Later we realised it sounded right because of Fred and George, the Weasley twins in the Potter books.
“Being Harry Potter’s sister has been hilarious – mad at times.
“When I told people my name was Katie Potter they’d often say, ‘Have you got a brother called Harry’ and I’d have to say ‘yes’.
“I know there are one or two other Harry Potters in the UK but, as far as I’m aware, only a couple were given the name before the Potter books came out.”