A Harry Potter fan who received an exclusive edition of the first JK Rowling book after entering a publishing company competition is putting it up for auction having kept it safe in her attic in Cumbria for a decade.
Childcare practitioner Chloe Esslemont was 16 when she entered the Bloomsbury competition, having to write a letter explaining in no more than 50 words why she loved Harry Potter, with entrants encouraged to draw and make their letters as elaborate as possible.
Her entry read: “Rita’s crimson talon-like nails, detailed pureblood genealogies, Harry’s sarcastic jokes, Luna’s lion headdress and Quidditch commentary. SPEW, meaningful character names, conversations with portraits, Peeves’ pranks, seemingly insignificant things proving very significant later … These details colour and enrich Harry’s world, making it the series that defines childhoods.”
Her words and colourful art impressed the judges and she was chosen as one of the 14 runner-ups, winning a leather-bound special 15th anniversary edition of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone – which was published exclusively for the competition and signed by author Rowling.
The book, which was never released for general sale, will go under the hammer at Hansons Library Auction in Staffordshire on December 16 and is expected to fetch up to £10,000.
Ms Esslemont said: “I’ve kept the book wrapped up in the attic for years. I got into Harry Potter when I was five. That’s when I 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 online.”
Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer, who has won global recognition for rare Harry Potter finds, said he had never seen an example of a book like this.
Mr Spencer said: “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 to £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 to £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. It’s dedicated to Chloe and is being sold with her original competition entry which is stunning. Her exquisitely designed and decorated letter comes in the form of a folding document inspired by the magical Marauder’s Map.
“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.”
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