A Harry Potter fan who received an exclusive edition of JK Rowling’s first book after taking part in a publishing house competition is putting it up for auction after keeping it safe in her attic in Cumbria for a decade.
Childcare worker Chloe Esslemont was 16 when she entered the Bloomsbury competition, asked to write a letter explaining in no more than 50 words why she loved Harry Potter, with entrants encouraged to draw and make their letters as elaborate as possible.
Her entry read: “Rita’s crimson talon-like fingernails, detailed pureblood genealogies, Harry’s sarcastic jokes, Luna’s lion headdress and Quidditch commentary. SPEW, meaningful character names, conversations with portraits, Peeves pranks, seemingly insignificant things turning out to be very significant later… These details color and enrich Harry’s world, making the series that defines childhoods.
Her words and colorful art impressed the judges and she was chosen as one of 14 finalists, winning a special leather-bound 15th anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – which was released exclusively for the competition and signed by author Rowling.
The book, which has never gone on general sale, will go under the hammer at the Hansons Library Auction in Staffordshire on December 16 and is expected to fetch up to £10,000.
Ms Esslemont said: ‘I kept the book wrapped up in the attic for years. I got into Harry Potter when I was five. It was then that I went to see my first film. I loved it and started reading all the books.
“Everyone was crazy about Potter when I was in school. I dressed up as Hermione for World Book Day and my grandmother knitted me a Gryffindor scarf. I still love the Potter books but I won this award 10 years ago, it has gathered dust and the money would be useful now. I am very excited about the auction. I will look online.
Hansons book expert Jim Spencer, who has won worldwide recognition for his rare Harry Potter finds, said he had never seen an example of a book quite like this.
Mr Spencer said: “Technically this is the rarest Harry Potter book I have ever handled and I have rated hundreds of them. The rarest and most valuable Potter book to own is generally regarded as one of 500 original bound copies of Philosopher’s Stone from the very first printing in 1997.
“I’ve found 18 so far and the highest hammer price to date is £69,000. I’ve also had plenty of early paperback issues, and the most recent ones have fetched £7,500 at £8,000.
“But this new find is particularly rare as it is one of 15 books specially published to mark the 15th anniversary of the Potter phenomenon. I traveled from the Midlands to Cumbria, just over the border of Scotland, to collect it As soon as the survey arrived, I warmed up the engine to go and see him.
“The value is completely unknown. I couldn’t find any others for sale, or having sold, anywhere. I don’t even think there is even a picture of one online. I’m heading for between £5,000 and £10,000 overall, but who knows what will happen if two or more people are determined to own it.
“This beautiful book has never been released for general sale. It is dedicated to Chloe and is sold with her original contest entry which is stunning. Her beautifully designed and decorated letter comes in the form of a folding document inspired by the marauder’s magic map.
“Fans could only participate by submitting their letters to specially designed mailboxes at participating bookstores and libraries. The grand prize winner received one of these exclusive books and a family vacation to The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.
“The 14 finalists received a copy of the book. Chloe’s has been carefully preserved and kept in a safe place, and is therefore in good, unread condition.