Harry Potter: Proof copy found in Oxford school fails to sell

Jim Spencer from Hansons
Jim Spencer from Hansons said it was a "remarkable lot"

A bid of £13,000 fell short of the reserve price of an original proof of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone rediscovered at a primary school.

The book was found during the summer at St Kenelm's Primary School in Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxfordshire. It was bought for £1 in 1997.

It went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers but failed to sell.

The book has a plain yellow and white cover and lists the author as "J. A Rowling" on the title page.

The uncorrected proof copy is one of only 200 printed by Bloomsbury in 1997.

Jim Spencer, head of books at Hansons Auctioneers, said the failure to reach the reserve price was "disappointing" but that it would be put up for auction again in November.

"Ultimately, if we'd sold it for too little, that would have been wrong. It fully deserves to reach the top end of £15,000 to £20,000," he said.

"With such a good cause, I wanted to get a big chunk of money for the school.

"The plain look to it is because it was just before Harry Potter took off - that's the magic of it."

Speaking before the auction, former head teacher Bob Alder, 75, said it was originally bought from a bookshop sale to give the children an "early taste" of the Harry Potter story.

"The teachers did share it with the children and they loved it - but it didn't get picked up much," he said.

When the series became massively popular, the school took the book off its shelves for safe keeping, but it went missing in 2015.

Mr Alder came across it while tidying out a school cupboard during the summer holidays.

The school had decided to sell the book to help students "further develop their own love of literature" through new books and updated equipment.

Mr Alder said finances were tight at the school and its sale would provide a valuable boost to resources.

The book was auctioned alongside a proposed illustrated cover of the first Harry Potter book and a 15th anniversary competition prize edition of the book, signed and dedicated by Rowling.

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