The Harry Potter Guide - First editions, values and more

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This post is dedicated to the modern fiction phenomenon that is the Harry Potter series.

With the vast franchise estimated to be valued in excess of $24,000,000,000 in 2012, J.K Rowling's world famous books are one of the most collectible of any modern author. Yet it is often difficult to know which books are the wise choices to collect and this post will hopefully help give a bit more information on collecting the Harry Potter books. In a book-by-book walkthrough, I aim to showcase which books are valuable and which ones aren't.


The Philosopher's Stone

As the first book in the series, this book is by far the most collected and valuable. Below is some information of values, editions and more.

The Young Wizard

My first tip is simple - look for the Young Wizard. This may not guarantee value but it will mean that the book is at least an early edition. Read on to find out more.


Two different editions, both firsts

Here is a typical trick that can attract those who don't know much about the Harry Potter books. A true first edition of the first HP books will sell for £1,500 if in poor condition and can rise close to ten thousand if signed and pristine. 2nd editions can reach over £150 and 3rd editions can still achieve in excess of £50.


However, a Celebratory edition in first edition state can be snapped up for approximately £5 and sell for a maximum of £20. Whilst many sellers will list the Celebratory edition (seen left, below) as a first edition, it is only a first edition of that specific type. This edition was in fact printed three years after the original 1997 first edition.


Another problem that can face buyers is the listing of a book as 'First Edition' when it may not be a true first. As seen below, the book is a first edition (i.e the first time the book was printed) but it is a later impression of the first state. This can be seen from the all important number line at the bottom of the print details page.

If the number line shows 10987654321 then you have a first edition.


The number line below is for the first Celebratory edition.


However, these two aren't the only early editions that might be listed as first editions. There is also the famed Ted Smart edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. A first edition of this book, printed a year after the first edition yet still appearing the same visually, can reach £300 and a second edition up to £30. Still a good amount but a far cry from the what the true firsts can achieve.

Even if they sport the 'Young Wizard' on the spine and back cover, these copies can still be Ted Smart editions - identified by viewing the spine as seen below.


The title page may appear the same for all four versions of first editions - the Celebratory, the Ted Smart and the True first.

The Old Wizard

One of the least sought after editions of The Philosopher's Stone is the Old Wizard cover version.

This denotes the book to be a later impression and so generally worth far less than the Young Wizard editions.

The Deluxe/ Special Edition

A far more collectible edition of The Philosopher's Stone, and indeed all seven books, if the Deluxe edition.

Sporting gilt edging, a facsimile signature and higher presentation values than standard editions, these can be worth a lot in true first state - up to £150 in fact.

Later impressions generally reach £10.

The Chamber of Secrets

Now we notice a sudden dive in values compared with The Philosopher's Stone and a new division between paperback and hardback. A first edition hardback is worth in excess of £250 and sometimes up to £500.

A first edition paperback can reach up to £30 but sometimes as low as £10.

Again there are the same four different versions being the Ted Smart edition, the Celebratory edition, the Deluxe edition and the True first.

This pattern actually runs throughout the series.

The Prisoner of Azkaban

A first edition hardback of the third book is worth up to £100 but generally around £40

A first edition paperback can sell for as little as 99p but can reach £15 at auction.


For this book the Deluxe edition usually commands in excess of £15 for any impression.

The Goblet of Fire

This book has a special variation to the others, unique to this book only.

The first edition was actually printed by two publishers - Clays (as are all the HP books) and the rarer Omnia press. The Omnia editions were estimated to represent a third of all first editions.

A first edition hardback Omnia book is worth between £20 and £40 whilst the Clays edition can reach £14 but often fails to reach more than £5.

Paperbacks aren't worth even considering. An important change with this book from the others is that the First Edition was far more printed than all the previous editions - partly to boost initial hardback sales. This pattern increases throughout the series meaning later editions are almost always firsts!

From this book onwards all first editions are stated as 'First Edition' in the print details rather than identified by number line - another sign that the first edition was aimed more at the general public to boost sales.


The Order of the Phoenix

The last book in the series that is worth collecting for any value at all.
The hardback first edition can reach £5 but generally is worth 99p.

The Half Blood Prince

Worth less still sadly.

Shown below is a paperback edition for diversity.


The Deathly Hallows

This may have been the best selling Harry Potter book but that also meant more First Editions were printed and so firsts are rarely worth more than the standard later impressions.


Thanks for reading - I hope this guide helped you in some small way!

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