The ‘rarest Harry Potter book ever seen’ is expected to fetch a whopping £10,000 at auction after being found gathering dust in a loft. The book was won by schoolgirl Chloe Esslemont when she entered a Harry Potter competition in 2012, aged 16.
Chloe went on to bag the leather-bound special 15th anniversary edition of The Philosopher’s Stone, which was published exclusively for the competition by publishers Bloomsbury’s and signed by author JK Rowling herself.
The Harry Potter-mad teenager had to write a letter explaining in no more than 50 words why she loved the much-loved books. Her entry, complete with elaborate doodles, wooed the judges and she was chosen as one of 14 runners-up.
Now the prize - the rarest Potter novel ever seen by book experts - is set to go under the hammer on December 16 with a guide price of £5,000-£10,000. However, the book could fetch much more at the Hansons Auctioneers sale as it’s one of only 15 ever made and was never released on general sale.
Chloe, now 26, from Kirkbride, near Carlisle in Cumbria, 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 it online.”
Chloe, a childcare practitioner, added: “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.”
Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer, who has won global recognition for rare Potter finds, says he has never seen an example like it. He added: “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.”
The book is dedicated to Chloe and is being sold with her original competition entry. The “exquisitely designed and decorated letter” comes in the form of a folding document inspired by the magical Marauder’s Map.
Mr Spencer went on: “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.
“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.”