I am delighted that Bayliss Rare Books was featured in The Washington Post over the weekend. Ron Charles (WP Books Editor) has written a fantastic article about the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone I am offering for sale. 

Article below and if you would like to learn more about the first edition we discuss, click here.

I have a clear memory of an editor at the Christian Science Monitor coming to my office — in truth, a closet — and describing a book just published in England about a boy wizard. Like the many publishers who had turned down Joanne Rowling’s story, I didn’t think much of it at first. But “Harry Potter” was about to magically transform children’s literature and the publishing industry. 

Bloomsbury (UK), which bought Rowling’s manuscript for a pittance, initially printed 500 hardback copies. More than half were sent to libraries where little Muggles handled them to death.

A quarter century later, that tiny first print-run has sent prices soaring higher than a Golden Snitch. In 2021, a first edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” sold at auction for $471,000, setting a record for 20th-c. fiction. 

By that standard the pristine first edition now for sale at Bayliss Rare Books in London, sounds like a bargain: about $140,000 (details). This copy, as scarce as a Hippogriff, was originally purchased by a mother for her son at Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford. “Since then,” Oliver Bayliss tells me, “it has sat on a shelf in the family home until the owner suddenly thought it might be a first edition.” 

Alas, used copies of “Harry Potter” are rarely worth more than a few Knuts. “I get contacted daily,” Bayliss says, “by people believing they have a first edition when it is always a rather tatty copy, three times through the washing machine kind of thing, and usually around the 20th edition.” 

But this copy ticks every box on the book collector’s scorecard. “Thankfully,” Bayliss adds, “it was kept out of direct sunlight and away from dust, so it is an incredibly well preserved copy, internally incredibly fresh and one of the most beautiful I have seen. It is also the only copy I have come across in my career that at this stage hasn’t been through a million auctions.” This could be your ticket to Hogwarts. 


June 19, 2023 — Oliver Bayliss