Rare Harry Potter book could be magic

A Harry Potter-mad teenager won the rarest Potter book ever seen by a books expert – and it could deliver a magical result at auction in December.

In 2012, when Chloe Esslemont was a 16-year-old school girl at The Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton, Cumbria, she entered a Harry Potter competition ran by publishers Bloomsbury’s.

Chloe at the age of 16 with her Harry Potter book prize and entry
Chloe at the age of 16 with her Harry Potter book prize and entry – Credit Hansons

She had to write a letter explaining in no more than 50 words why she loved Harry Potter. Entrants were encouraged to draw doodle and make their letters as  elaborate as possible – and she pulled out all the stops.

Chloe, now 26, from  Kirkbride, near Carlisle, said: “I can’t remember how long it took me to create my entry. My mum worked at a library at the time and told me about the competition. I wrote about how I loved the minutiae of detail in the Potter books which became important in later novels.”

Her striking entry states: ‘…insignificant things proving very significant later … These details colour and enrich Harry’s world, making it the series that defines chidhood’.

Chloe’s colourful entry – credit Hansons

Her words and colourful art wooed the judges and she was chosen as one of 14 runners-up. She won a leather-bound special 15th -anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – published exclusively for the competition and  signed by author J K Rowling.

Now the prize –  the rarest Potter book ever seen by Hansons Auctioneers – is set to go under the hammer on December 16 with a guide price of £5,000-£10,000.

Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer, who has won global recognition for rare Potter finds, says he has never seen an example like it. And that means it could produce a result worthy of wizardry.

Another of Chloe’s colourful entries – credit Hanson

Jim said: “Technically, this is the rarest Harry Potter book I have ever handled – and I have assessed hundreds. The rarest and most valuable Potter book to own is generally regarded as being one of the original 500 hardback copies of Philosopher’s Stone from the first-ever print run in 1997. I have found 18 of those so far and the highest hammer price achieved to date is £69,000. I’ve also had lots of paperback first issues, and recent ones have fetched £7,500-8,000.

“But this new find is particularly scarce as it’s one of only 15 books specially published to mark the 15th anniversary of the Potter phenomenon. I travelled from the Midlands to Cumbria, right on the border of Scotland, to collect it. As soon as the enquiry came through, I was warming the engine to go and see it!

“The value is completely unknown. I haven’t found another one for sale, or having sold, anywhere. I don’t even think there’s even a picture of one  online! I’m guiding broadly at £5,000-10,000 but who knows what will happen if two or more people are determined to own it.

“This beautiful book was never released for general sale. It’s dedicated to Chloe  and is being sold with her original competition entry which is stunning. Her exquisitely designed and decorated letter comes in the form of a folding document  inspired by the magical Marauder’s Map.

“Fans could only enter by submitting their letters through specially-designed postboxes at participating bookshops and libraries. The overall winner received one of these exclusive books and a family holiday to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. The 14 runners-up received a copy of the book. Chloe’s has been treasured and kept safe, and is therefore in fine, unread condition.”

Chloe, a childcare practitioner, said: “I’ve kept the book wrapped up in the attic for years. I got into Harry Potter when I was five. That’s went to see my first film. I loved it and started reading all the books.

“Everyone was Potter mad when I was at school. I dressed up as Hermione for World Book Day and my nan knitted me a Gryffindor scarf. I still like the Potter books but I won this prize 10  years ago, it’s been gathering dust and the money would be useful now. I am very excited about the auction. I’ll be watching online.”

Jim said: “This book could be the perfect Christmas present for a Potter fan or a book collector looking to invest. It will be fascinating to see how well it does.”

The Harry Potter book will be offered in Hansons’ Library Auction on December 16 at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire.