Ever since last summer, when Jim Spencer of Hansons (25% buyer’s premium) sold an ex-Staffordshire Library, 1997 first of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for £28,500, he has become one of those auctioneers who is a target for people wondering if their own Potter books are worthy of a saleroom outing.
Though other copies have made considerably more – the auction record currently stands at $130,000 for a pristine, signed copy seen at Christie’s New York in December 2018 – Hansons sold another for £45,000 last October, and still the books keep on Rowling in.
A May 21 auction in the Etwall rooms boasted 17 Rowling lots, and the prize entry was another of those 300 first-issue copies (from a print run of just 500) that found their way into public libraries.
Discarded by one such authority when considered too scruffy to remain in circulation, it was rescued from a skip by a teacher who thought it still had some worthwhile mileage left.
It later spent many years in an attic before being magically whisked off to auction and a bid of £33,000.
Chris Columbus’ heavily annotated original working script for his film version of the book – salvaged, apparently, from another skip – was also on offer, but failed on an estimate of £30,0000-50,000.
Described as ‘incredibly well preserved’, a copy of the first paperback issue of …the Philosopher’s Stone had arrived in Derbyshire just three days before the sale, but was accepted as a late entry and sold exceptionally well at £6500.
DH Lawrence dumps Louie
Another lot that attracted national publicity was a postcard addressed by the young DH Lawrence to Louie Burrows, a young lady to whom he later became engaged but did not in the end marry - eloping instead with another.
The consignor was Louie’s niece, who collected cards and was given it as a child but did not realise its significance until much later in life.
Depicting on one side a partly defaced image of an early Blériot monoplane, and with its stamp presumably removed by someone with other collecting interests, it was in generally poor condition overall. It sold at £30000 – 10 times the low estimate.
Previewed in ATG No 2443, an inscribed US first of Roald Dahl’s first published work, The Gremlins of 1943 – a children’s book commissioned by Walt Disney for a proposed film that never materialised – made a record £6500.
This copy, which featured Dahl’s rather intriguing inscription, “To John, who wrote the bloody thing anyway”, had been given to Wing Commander John Alexander DFC, who formed a friendship with Dahl during their RAF years. Proceeds of the sale will be given to charities.