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SYFY WIRE Harry Potter

This Ultra-Rare 'Lost' Harry Potter Book Was Discovered Tucked Away In A School Library

Ravenclaw's fabled Diadem wasn't the only magical item to turn up years after it went missing.

By Josh Weiss

Rowena Ravenclaw's fabled Diadem isn't the only magical artifact to turn up years after it went missing.

An ultra-rare, uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (that's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to us American readers) recently discovered at an Oxfordshire primary school could fetch up to $25,000 at auction.

RELATED: Daniel Radcliffe on Someone New Playing Harry Potter? It’s ‘Destined to Become Like Sherlock Holmes’

Ultra-rare Harry Potter novel turns up years later; goes up for auction

"It’s believed just 200 copies of this book were printed by Bloomsbury. This modest little paperback is the beginning of it all. The author’s signing tours, the midnight queues outside bookshops, the movies, the merchandise — it all stems from this," Jim Spencer, Head of Books at Hansons Auctioneers, said in a statement. "This copy bears a stamp for St Kenelm’s School. It has decided to sell the book, which was originally put on the shelves of the library for pupils to read. The plain cover evidently didn’t inspire many, if any, takers, and so it has survived remarkably well. As soon as Harry Potter mania developed, the school wisely removed it from the borrowing shelves."

The book — which had been purchased for a single pound at a warehouse sale in 1997 and was thought to be lost for close to a decade — resurfaced during a summer cleaning session at the school. Devoid of Thomas Taylor's iconic cover art commissioned for the original Bloomsbury printing in the United Kingdom, this version boasts a humble white and yellow facade. The item's status as an "uncorrected proof" becomes immediately apparent on one of the inner pages, which incorrectly spells J.K. Rowling as "J.A. Rowling."

The ‘Uncorrected Proof Copy’ of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone featuring a white cover with a yellow banner.

"It was quite by luck that the Harry Potter was spotted in the sale. It had none of the attractiveness of a typical child’s paperback," retired St Kenelm’s School headteacher Bob Adler said, admitting that no one suspected any inherent value. Once it became clear that the Wizarding World had thoroughly overtaken the Muggle one, however, the book was removed from the public borrowing shelf in 2002 for safe-keeping. By that point, most students already had their own first edition copies, sparing the proof from further wear and tear.

It was "packaged, and put somewhere safe," but went missing in 2015, Adler explained, "and there was concern it had been thrown away in a clear out of old and damaged paperbacks."

"I have made several important Harry Potter discoveries but this is extra special, and a first for me," Spencer continued. "Since 2017, Hansons has sourced and sold 16 super rare hardback first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which were published in the very first 500-book print run. This find is even more scarce. Not only that, it takes us back a stage further in the evolution of the multi-million-pound Potter phenomenon. This is an original proof copy of a book which went on to take the world by storm."

If you've got a Gringotts vault piled high with Galleons and want to know more about the auction, click here.

Need more magic in your Muggle life? All eight Harry Potter films are now streaming on Peacock!