The real British Harry Potter sells his copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone after discovering that it is a valuable first edition.
And he plans to turn the fun gift, purchased by his dumbfounded father when it was released in 1997 due to a coincidence of the name, into a lasting legacy. The proceeds from the sale of the hardcover book will be used to honor his late father. The hardcover copy, one of 500 copies in the first edition, is to be sold at Hansons Auctioneers on October 7, priced at £ 20,000 to £ 30,000.
Harry, a 33-year-old national sales manager, was eight when Potter’s first book came out. Thanks to Pottermania, he has spent the past 25 years trying to convince people of his name. it is true Harry Potter.
“People just don’t believe me,” said Harry, a father of three from Waterlooville, Hampshire. “When I was a young footballer, a referee threatened me with a red card for saying my name was Harry Potter. When I met my wife Philippa (30) on vacation in Greece, she did not Didn’t believe me either. People think it’s a sell-off. I’ve been taking the Mick away from me over the years, but you get used to it.
“I’m quite an extrovert and handled it fairly well, plus it has its advantages. When I was 12 and the first Potter movie came out, we were invited to be Family of the Week on the Big Breakfast TV show. I have met a lot of stars including Gwen Stefani and Ben Stiller.
“My current boss, Steve Barrett at Diamond Cut Refinish Ltd, assumed my last name was Shaw because it’s my mom’s new marriage name and she works for him. When he found out my name was Harry Potter he said he should have paid me more because people will always remember me.
“When you call someone and they ask for your name, they usually laugh or say ‘you’re kidding.’ This makes filing a complaint quite difficult!
Proceeds from the sale of the book will be shared with his sister Katie Sign, 36, an accountant and mum to Freddie, one, from Waterlooville. Four years older than Harry, she has fond memories of the book’s arrival in the family home in 1997.
She said: “I remember dad barging in the front door after work holding up a book, proclaiming ‘you’ll never believe what I’ve got! At first glance, we were confused. Had anyone written a book for Harry? Our Harry Potter? Dad explained that he heard Terry Wogan mention Harry Potter on Radio 2 and, once he had Understood, Terry was referring to an award-winning children’s book – not his then eight-year-old son – he turned around in his van, drove straight to Bay Tree Bookshop in Waterlooville and bought us a copy.
“The novelty and the coincidence of the namesake prompted us to open this first book, but the magic of the story has kept us turning the pages for years. Harry was eight and I was 12 when we first read the books together. I was reading aloud and although I called Hermione “Hermy-one” until at least halfway through The Chamber of Secrets, my impression of Dobby is second to none.
“The book had pride of place on the windowsill next to my bed and was eventually joined by the entire collection. They have remained on a shelf or on a window sill in every house I have lived in for 20 years. It was a treasure for us long before it was of any value to the rest of the world.
“Our father passed away at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer in October 2017, and we love and miss him dearly. It was soon after that we realized that the old book we had loved and cherished for 20 years was a sought after first edition. Our father, David James Potter, was a wise and loving man who believed that the richest people were those who lived fully and that this experience was more valuable than money.
“Selling the book then, despite its financial value, did not interest us. It was one of the few tangible and lasting treasures we had from our father. Thus, the book was removed from a protective sandwich bag in the cupboard under the stairs, and it remained there for four years.
“Over time, we realized that the book had changed for us. We knew that the first rare editions sold for tens of thousands of books. It was no longer something we could appreciate, or love, without fear of damaging it. We are not investors or collectors, we are two grown children who would like to enjoy life as our father prescribed – to the fullest. The book is the legacy that dad left us for making it.
“With the proceeds from the sale, we would like to take Daddy’s ashes to Africa, the place where he asked to finally rest, where we can make new and wonderful memories with our own children and families. After all, ‘it doesn’t do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live’ – Albus Dumbledore ‘.
Harry added: “We think now is the time to use the money to benefit our families and do something Dad wanted. I have three young children – Hugo, five, Arthur, two and Maggie, 19 weeks – and Katie a Freddie. Oddly enough, both Hugo and Arthur are character names in the Potter books, but the choice was accidental.
Katie, who is married to Olympic Navigator Alain Sign, added: “Freddie’s middle name is George. We chose it because we thought it sounded right. Later we realized it sounded good because of the Weasley twins Fred and George in the Potter books!
“Being Harry Potter’s sister has been hilarious – crazy at times. When I told people my name was Katie Potter they would often say, “Do you have a brother named Harry” and I had to say “yes”. I know there are an other Harry Potter or two in the UK but as far as I know only a few were given this name before the Potter books came out. I think my brother got national attention when he was younger because he was the same age as the character in the book when it first came out.
The first hardcover issue of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is due on October 7 at Hansons Auctioneers. For more information, email Charles Hanson: [email protected]