Ultra rare Harry Potter book sells for £15k after surviving Glasgow fire

Carina Haouchine won the rare copy in a school competition at age 15.

Ultra rare Harry Potter book sells for £15k after surviving Glasgow fire Carina Haouchine

One of the rarest Harry Potter books ever published has exceeded expectations and sold for £15,000 at auction after almost burning in a Glasgow fire.

The book, which belonged to Carina Haouchine, was won in a school competition in 2012.

It is one of only 15 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone competition prize editions published to mark the 15th anniversary of the Potter phenomenon. Signed and dedicated by author JK Rowling, the books were never released for sale.

Carina’s pristine copy sold for £15,000 to a UK phone bidder at Hansons Auctioneers’ Library Auction on Tuesday – surpassing its estimate of £8,000-£12,000, much to the seller’s delight.

However, the book is extra special after also being saved from a Glasgow tenement fire at the beginning of this year.

Carina, 26, a documentary film-maker from Scotland, said: “I’m thrilled with the result and very grateful to my 15-year-old self!

“The book was kept hidden away in my childhood bedroom and then in the storage cupboard of my tenement flat in Glasgow. The tenement experienced a tragic fire at the beginning of the year. Thankfully nobody was injured but it is now uninhabitable. I’m very grateful the book survived!

Carina Haouchine's Glasgow tenement went on fire at the start of 2023.Carina Haouchine

“The ground floor of the building and stairwell were badly damaged but my flat, which was on the second floor, wasn’t affected – including the cupboard where the book was stored.”

The school competition was organised by published Bloomsbury in order to find the UK’s biggest Harry Potter fan.

Participants were invited to write a letter explaining why they loved Harry Potter and were encouraged to make their entry as elaborate as possible.

The winner received one of the exclusive books and a family holiday to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort in the United States while 14 runners-up received one of the books.

Carina spent time over the summer holidays creating her colourful entry which included a watercolour portrait on an envelope depicting the three main characters – Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.

She also included a hand-carved wand bearing a tag, ‘Douglas Fir with a phoenix feather core’. Her entry letter stated: ‘I’ve grown up with Harry Potter. It was the first thing I was ever passionate about, and I always will be!’.

Carina said: “I grew up with my mum reading me the Harry Potter books and the release of the film series sparked my passion for film. I am now a filmmaker and I’ve no doubt that the Harry Potter world played a part in that.

“At the time of the competition, it was the passion of my little brothers that kept it alive in me. In recent years it has become less important to me but it still makes me nostalgic to look back on it.

“I found out about the competition in a magazine. I really wanted to win the first prize of a family trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, especially as my little brothers were big Potter fans.

“I was very interested in production design in film and this inspired me to carve the wand, create a personalised chocolate frog card and hand-paint the envelope.

“I was ecstatic when I won. It felt amazing to be one of only 15 people chosen. But I have to admit I was also the littlest bit frustrated that I was a runner-up and had just missed out on the first-prize holiday!

“I decided to sell the book because I recently got engaged to my girlfriend so the money from the sale would be very helpful to put towards our wedding and future.”

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons’ Library Auction, said: “This was a tremendous result for what is technically the rarest edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Only 15 copies were produced and they were never offered for sale. It’s not recorded in the invaluable J K Rowling bibliography by Philip W Errington, which proves how scarce it is.

“In fact, until last year, the public had no idea what this book even looked like because there was no visual record of its existence online. None of the competition winners had shared images, there was really only a brief record of the competition itself.

“That changed last year when Hansons Auctioneers sold the first known copy of one of these for Chloe Esslemont, who was also a runner-up in the Bloomsbury competition. That was the only known copy to have surfaced, let alone be offered for sale. It achieved £8,000 but we have almost doubled that today.”

He added: “All of this emphasises the importance of this book and what a truly magical opportunity is in store for all Potterheads. The market is flooded with convincing forgeries of Rowling’s signature, so this is a golden opportunity to buy a signed book with absolute confidence in its authenticity.

“Adding to the appeal of the book, was the original competition entry, a really charming portrait of the three main characters, and you’ve got to love the hand-carved wand. I catalogue books and manuscripts going right back to the medieval period, so I’m always conscious of posterity and how things will be perceived in the future. I predict that 100 years from now, this book, and the fan art that accompanies it, will be displayed in a museum.”

The Harry Potter book sold in Hansons Auctioneers’ Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on September 5, 2023. To find out more, email jspencer@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk.

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