A bookseller's proof of J K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been sold for almost £10,000 - four times as much as the expected bidding price.
The uncorrected proof copy, which misspells the famous author’s name on the title as “J A Rowling”, sold for £9,375 on Wednesday (14th June) at the Bonham’s auction in London, almost 20 years since being published by Bloomsbury. The proof of the first in Rowling’s world-famous wizarding series was sent to the current owner whilst working in a Bournemouth bookshop in 1997.
It is one of the 200 or so uncorrected proofs with the spelling error on the title page. It is accompanied by a proof of the cover of the first edition and has “considerable variations in the lettering and blurb” according to the London auction house. It was originally priced at £4.50. The cover and proof were originally valued between £1,500 and £2,500 before being sold for four times this amount.
Another copy of the same title, a first paperback edition, issued on the same day as the first hardback on 26th June, went for £2,125 after originally being valued at between £1,000 and £1,500.
The sale of fine books, atlases, manuscripts and photographs in Knightsbridge also featured older literary treasures which attracted high bids. A first edition of Gulliver’s Travels was one of the biggest sellers and went for £23,250, more than twice its predicted price of between £10,000 and £15,000. It is listed under its original, lengthier title of Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships which was published in 1726 by Benjamin Motte.
A watercolour by illustrator Arthur Rackham from a 1919 edition of Cinderella (William Heinemann) fetched £17,500 rather than the original estimate of £8,000 to £12,000.
It shows the bedraggled heroine in rags with a framework of mice, mystical creatures and plants and formed the colour frontpiece to the “de luxe edition” of Cinderella retold by C S Evans (Heinemann, 1919). It contains a pencil annotation from Rackam in the lower border in which he wrote: “Note to Reproducer. I think there is no need to use colours that are eiher very bright or very dense. You will see that the solid blacks are rather brown and not very strong. The variety and quality of the quiet buffs and grays are more important than the bright spots.”
A first edition of Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle by Charles Darwin, Robert Fitzroy and Philip Parker King, dating from 1839, was also sold for £16,250.
Altogether 201 of the lots at the auction sold amassing a value of £940,425 in total.
Arthur Rackham, Cinderella 1919