Rare Harry Potter book sells for £40k after it was ‘nearly dropped in the bath’

A rare Harry Potter book that once narrowly escaped being dropped in the bath has sold for £40,000 at an auction.

The first edition of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone had been expected to fetch £30,000 – but it's gone for even more.

The 1997 hardback was given to a 68-year-old retired civil servant as a present, but he had no idea how valuable the kids' fantasy novel would one day become, Edinburgh Live reports.

Only 500 of the first editions were ever printed and luckily the book was still in good condition, with the owner expressing relief that his son had never dropped it in the bath while reading.

The edition, which is deemed a "holy grail" for collectors, was predicted to rake in between £20,000 and £30,000 but has brought in a huge £40k after being sold by Hansons Auctioneers.

The seller said: "The book was a present. As it turns out, it is the most valuable present we have ever been given.

"In 1997 we were living abroad on a Foreign Office posting. It wasn't the other side of the world but, in a country with an esoteric language and not the strongest historical ties with the UK, opportunities for children to find English language books were few.

"So, when this book turned up from Yorkshire it was a rare thing – a novel-length children's book with an intriguing storyline. It drew us in.

"Our son was seven and our daughter four at the time. We had a family reading of it on holiday, a chapter at a time each evening before bed.

"It was the start of a mini-tradition. The Harry Potter books tended to be published just before the summer holidays so we took one away with us for several years and read it together.

"Of course, the children soon wanted to read for themselves and our copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is not only well travelled but well read.

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"It could have had a different kind of adventure, though, because our children like to read in the bath and when our son heard our copy was a first edition, he said he was glad he had never dropped it in the bathwater.

"They don't get that habit from their dad I hasten to add."

Of the 500 books published by Bloomsbury 25 years ago, 300 went to schools and libraries and 200 to book shops.

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons' Library Department, said: "Finding another first issue hardback of the 500 originally published is really special.

"I'm honoured to be handling these, and I share the excitement of every vendor.

"I receive hundreds of emails and calls from hopeful owners of Harry Potters all over the world, so it's a little tougher having to let most people down gently – but I check every enquiry, respond to every person, because it's like panning for gold.

"When it was given as gift all those years ago no-one knew Harry Potter would turn into a worldwide phenomenon.

"The buyer unwittingly purchased a first edition, destined to be worth thousands of pounds decades later, as a gift. It's lovely for the family.

"They had no idea their bookshelf contained something so special until recently."

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