Rare proof sheets from the first Harry Potter book set to sell for £20,000 | Books

A preprint version of JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book is set to fetch at least £20,000 at auction this week. The galley proof (a publishing term for the printed version of a book before its final proofreading) is the only known copy of this type. A first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone signed by Rowling is also up for auction and is expected to sell for at least £25,000.

The set of kitchen sheets, which will be sold by Chiswick Auctions, consists of 109 pages. The advance copy of Philosopher’s Stone is accompanied by letters from 1997, the year the book was published, showing correspondence between Rosamund Walker, then Marketing Manager at Bloomsbury Children’s Books (now Rosamund de la Hey, co-owner of the independent bookstore The Mainstreet Trading Company), and children’s book reviewer Fiona Waters.

The lot, which will be part of the auction house’s Fine Books & Works on Paper sale on April 28, has been estimated between £20,000 and £30,000.

Dated February 26, 1997, Walker’s letter accompanying the galley sheets—which are laid out as the final version of the book would be—describes the book’s plot, with Walker writing: school hugs with good guys and bad guys…J just loved it – fast, funny, imaginative, smart and the characters are wonderfully alive.

The only set of known uncorrected original galley sheets for Harry Potter and JK Rowling’s Philosopher’s Stone. Photograph: Chiswick Auctions

In a response dated March 28, 1997, Waters wrote, “I just loved this book…There’s something about Harry Potter that reminds me of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the handsome guy who does good.”

Waters also said the Bloomsbury team needed to get the book cover right “if it was to be picked up”, and asked for a finished copy as they “would like to tell a lot of people about it”. Waters’ quote was used on the back of the first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Clive Moss, Head of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Chiswick Auctions, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer such a fascinating insight into what would become an iconic work in the history of literature. This copy is not mentioned in the definitive bibliography of Philip W Errington, which records all activity in the works of JK Rowling. Therefore, they are the only known sets of kitchen sheets that have been seen or offered for sale on the open market.

A signed first edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone paperback is also up for sale at the auction, along with a Letter of Authenticity from Harry Potter scholar Adam Houston. The book is estimated between £25,000 and £28,000.

A set of first editions of all seven UK Harry Potter titles are also to be sold by the auction house, all of which are signed on the title page by Rowling and in excellent condition. The set comes with a note on Rowling’s letterhead explaining that this signed set was donated by Rowling to be used for a fundraising auction to benefit the BSF charity. The set is estimated to sell for between £26,000 and £28,000.

The lots were donated by different people for a “variety of reasons,” Moss said. “Some have realized they have valuable property, some think the market is right for them, another wants it to help them buy property. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are a phenomenon that continues to give and help people in many ways”.

The sale will also include a complete set of first edition James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, estimated between £40,000 and £60,000.

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