Going Price for ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ First Edition: $30 Gs

The going price, as of 2009, is just short of $30,000. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 1st edition sells for $29,875 (H/T to James!)

Why so much? The first run was very short, only 500 copies, and was distributed primarily to libraries, schools, and reviewers. Most copies, consequently, were either dumped or heavily used. The big price is paid for a 1st Edition in excellent condition. Scarcity squared in other words, when combined with high demand yields a bidding war. Read about that in the comments following the article above or this wonderful post about how to recognize a first edition at ‘Is My Harry Potter Book Valuable?’

In the beginning of what promises to be an extended inflationary cycle, I suppose this sort of purchase has to be considered as an investment against hard times. Even so, I confess to being astonished at the dollar figure. As much as I love the story, I ask myself — Do I live in a world with different priorities and interests than a First Edition buyer or is it just the relatively small purse I carry that prevents me from paying $30,000 for a book I can pick up at a yard sale for a dime?


  1. Sorry John, but this auction is from 2009. Old news!

  2. I have changed the post heading from ‘New Record Price’ to ‘Going Price.’

    Thank you for the correction! The blogger whose post went up yesterday was commenting on the recent bid for an old Superman comic, and, in that context, brought up the 2009 auction in which ‘Stone’ fetched over $29,000. My mistake.

    Though it is “old news” does not make the post’s points any less relevant. Do you care to comment on those? Please do!

  3. Bruce Charlton says

    I have a first edition, first printing of Tolkien’s Silmarillion from 1977 – in what would be termed ‘very good’ condition

    – current going price on amazon.co.uk…

    One pence (plus postage).

    That wasn’t much of an investment, was it?

    (It is also pretty much the only book ‘by’ Tolkien which disappointed me from first reading to last, which I do not love, and which I almost-never read.)

  4. In some sense, the value of all collectible items is based on the greater fool theory. A first edition Harry Potter book is no exception. If you buy a copy for $30,000 and are able to sell it in five years for $100,000, it is a great investment. Purchasing artwork from long dead famous painters has been a great investment historically. Purchasing tulip bulbs hasn’t worked out quite as well.

    I don’t think I’d ever invest this type of money in a collectible unless I had so much money that it was really meaningless. For Bill Gates, dropping $30K for a book is probably relatively less than me purchasing a copy for my Kindle. There are obviously other people out there who have different priorities from me though.

  5. This may have been an old sale, but the story of that sale appears to be making the rounds right now. While I understand the scarcity of the actual book, and the value/popularity of the series, I still find myself thinking…

    Holy &^*#$!

    Or something like that.

    Hey Bruce, just wait until The Hobbit films come out… and they’re filming now…!

  6. Harry Potter Lego Maniac says

    Jeeeez that’s a lot! I’m happy with my beat up paper back copy. Besides, I’m not crazy about that cover art. I bought my husband the whole gift set a couple of years ago so he would finally read the books. I couldn’t imagine spending that much but hey, I guess I’m not a collector.

  7. Actually I do collect in a small and much cheaper way. This surely will be an important book years from now. I think the prices hit a peak a few years ago. It will be interesting going forward , as Harry drops out of media sight where the book prices level out. That being said, the first Bloomsbury edition was very small and should be worthwhile going forward. Again, it depends at what price you buy. Lots of people bought at sky high prices , not sure they will all see appreciation of capital in their lifetimes

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