Tuesday, October 20, 2020

UK library could reclaim £42,500 Harry Potter book sold at auction in US

The Harry Potter book was sold for or $55,000 (£42,500) (Picture: Heritage Auction)

A library in the UK could try to reclaim a Harry Potter book it once owned after it was resold at auction for £42,500.

Portsmouth City Library was home to a first edition Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone book before it ended up in the hands of a seller in California, the BBC reported

The library service confirmed the book went missing 23 years ago – a month after it was published for the first time – and it also contained a stamp from August 1997.

It said: “Our records show that this book was originally owned by Portsmouth’s school library service and was one of three first editions we purchased in 1997 when the first Harry Potter story was published.

“In 2004 we sold two copies to raise funds for the library service but the third copy was missing.”

It added: “Now we know the whereabouts of the book… we’re looking into our options and whether we might be able to reclaim the book.”

The book contains a stamp from Portsmouth City Library (Picture: Heritage Auctions)

The book, from author JK Rowling, was sold to a buyer in Tennessee for $55,000 (£42,500) which was considerably more than the  $20,000  guide price. 

It was one of 500 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hardback editions that were released in 1997 and they were mostly distributed to libraries and schools.

Heritage Auctions’ public relations director and Harry Potter expert Eric Bradley said: “If the Portsmouth library was interested in getting it back… I think it would set a precedent, because I think it would be the first time a library took a serious case to reclaim a Harry Potter book.

He added if the library service is successful in retrieving the book it could open the floodgates for other library books to be reclaimed.

Another first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was sold for £75,000 in the UK this week by an English ex-pat who originally bought it to help his children learn English growing up in Luxembourg.

It had been sat on a bookshelf for 21 years when the owner decided to check and see if it was a rare copy.

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