Harry Potter first edition book sold for £42,000 - but Portsmouth library service claim it's theirs

A FIRST edition Harry Potter book sold at auction for £42,000 is being held by the auctioneer – as Portsmouth’s library service has said it is theirs and was never officially checked out.

By Richard Lemmer
Friday, 23rd October 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 23rd October 2020, 9:59 am

The first edition Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone book by JK Rowling, which has a Portsmouth City Library Service stamp and number, has been sold at auction in the USA.

Its former owner from California sold it at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, to a buyer in Tennessee for more than double its £15,280 estimate.

Now, Portsmouth City Council library service is looking to reclaim the book – as the council said it was not officially checked out.

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The Portsmouth City Council library service Harry Potter book. Picture: Heritage Auctions, HA.com

A Portsmouth City Council Library Service stamp inside appears to be from August 1997.

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A spokesman from Portsmouth City Council said: ‘Our records show that this book was originally owned by Portsmouth's school library service and was one of three first editions we purchased in 1997 when the first Harry Potter story was published.

‘In 2004 we sold two copies through auction to raise funds for the library service, the third copy was missing.

The Portsmouth City Council library service Harry Potter book. Picture: Heritage Auctions, HA.com

‘We know from our records that it was not officially taken out or withdrawn from the library service.

‘Now we know the whereabouts of the book...we're looking into our options and whether we might be able to reclaim the book.’

A total of 500 hardback first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone were printed in 1997, with the majority being sent to UK schools and libraries.

The claim has led to Heritage Auctions retaining the item.

Eric Bradley, director of public relations at the company, said: ‘Heritage’s counsel has reached out multiple times to the Portsmouth (council’s) solicitor and have yet to hear back to learn the details behind the city’s claim to the book.

‘Heritage was only informed of the concerns of the Portsmouth (council) on the eve of the auction in a letter sent by its solicitor, too close to the sale to remove the item from auction based on the information presented.

‘Heritage takes all claims of ownership very seriously, has retained possession of the book out of an abundance of caution, and is eager to engage further to resolve this issue.’

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