A 33-year-old man called Harry Potter from Waterlooville in Hampshire has sold a rare copy of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone for thousands of pounds at auction.
Mr Potter’s hardback first edition copy of the book was jointly owned with his sister, Katie Sign, and was given to the pair by their late father, David James Potter, in 1997.
After much deliberation they decided to part with it in a bid to honour their dad. Despite being in well-thumbed condition, it sold to a private UK buyer for a hammer price of £22,000 at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on October 14.
Harry Potter, who attended the sale at Hansons’ headquarters at Etwall, near Derby, 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, said: “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.
Harry, a 33-year-old national sales manager, was eight when the first Potter book came out in 1997. Thanks to Pottermania, he’s spent the last 25 years trying to convince people his name really is Harry Potter.
“People just don’t believe me,” said Harry, a dad-of-three. “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.
“My current boss, Steve Barrett at Diamond Cut Refinishing Ltd, 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!”
Proceeds from the sale of the book are being shared with his sister Katie, 36, an accountant and mum to Freddie, one, also from Waterlooville. Being four years older than Harry, she has vivid memories of the book’s arrival at the family home in 1997.
She 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, David, 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 plan to take dad’s ashes to Africa, the place he asked to finally rest.”
Harry added: “We decided now was 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 Katie has Freddie.”