Chicken House m.d. Barry Cunningham, the man who acquired the manuscript for J K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the late 1990s, is selling his unique edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard at Sotheby’s.
The book is one of only six special copies of Beedle the Bard produced, given to ‘those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books’. It is inscribed with a personal dedication from Rowling, which says: “To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell… THANK YOU”.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final novel the Harry Potter series, when Albus Dumbledore leaves a copy of the “fairy-tales” to Hermione Granger. Rowling later published the book to raise money for charity. This edition is bound in brown leather, with “seven unique mounted rhodochrosite stones”. It is also embellished with sterling silver ornaments and a silver skull.
Dr Philip W Errington, director of Sotheby’s books and manuscripts department, said: "The personal resonance of this book makes this both an exceptional and highly desirable object to come to auction. It is particularly special as it is only one of six made for those closest to the author throughout the journey of creating the Harry Potter series, gifted to the man who recognised the brilliance of J.K Rowling’s writing and her potential impact on children’s literature."
Sotheby’s estimates the book will sell for £300,000-500,000 at auction, although in 2007 a copy produced for sale at auction to raise money for J.K Rowling’s charity Lumos, was sold at Sotheby’s for £1.95m.
Cunningham told The Telegraph Rowling had given her approval to auction the book, which he recently been stored in a bank. He said he would give some of the money to his children and some to J K Rowling's charity Lumos.
“It was an amazing and totally unexpected gift,” he said. “It’s absolutely breathtakingly wonderful, and I now want to make sure I can do good with it.”