Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More magic afoot at Heritage: Harry Potter trove in June

May 20, 2009
Posted by Noah

I wrote here a few months ago about when we auctioned off an original 1st edition signed paperback of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. It was worldwide news – It is, after all, Harry Potter – and seemed to open the floodgates where original Harry Potter books are concerned. This is, BTW, a good thing. Oh yes it is.

For our upcoming mid-June Rare Books Auction it seems we have a whole lot of a good thing with not just an original hardcover English 1st Edition Harry Potter leading the way – $30,000-$50,000 for this little treasure – but an original complete set of first Deluxe editions signed by Rowling Herself, a complete set of English hardcovers, also signed by Rowling, a complete set of American first editions, a first edition English version of Book Two – Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets – and, just to top things off, a first edition signed version of the Tales of Beedle The Bard, the only literature of the Rowling universe outside of the Harry Potter books themselves.

Whew! How’s that? I guess you could reasonably say that we’ve become the go-to house for rare and valuable Potter first editions.

Is it a little mind-boggling that books that are scarcely 12 years old are commanding $30,000? Yes, but I really don’t know too much about the world of rare books. I do know enough, however, to know that demand is everything and in today’s world there can be no doubt that the single most in-demand title is anything with Harry Potter on it. If we can facilitate the phenomenal growth of this niche – and fuel the continued growth of the Potter legend, then good for us!

Personally, I would love to have one of these books, because they are touchstones of modern Pop Culture and quite valuable. As far as literature goes, not so much. People love Rowling’s world, and they adore her characters, but you can’t possibly tell me that the writing is world class. The storytelling? No question. The writing? Again, not so much. I’ll take me some Faulkner or Nabokov on their worst writing day anytime over Rowling on her best. Like I said, it’s not to fault her epic imagination, just her prosaic writing. I know some of you must be fuming and wringing your hands over my blasphemy, but you can’t change my mind…

The real question with the Harry Potter phenomenon isn’t really what they mean to us today – it’s an indisputable fact that the series of books and movies are one of the most important properties of modern times – but rather whether they will have any legs 100, 200 or 300 years from now. Barring any unforeseen amazing medical breakthroughs – or maybe advanced cryogenics or the prospect thereof a la the future of Jim Halperin’s book The Truth Machine – I’m at a loss to say.

I won’t venture a guess here, as I’d hate for history to somehow prove me wrong, or some alien civilization based solely on the writing of Rowling to arrive here in millennia, uncover my answer and vilify me for all time to its dominion. You know it’s possible…

Anyway, content yourself in the meantime with looking at these superb volumes, and dream of where you’d put them on your own bookshelves. Imagine your grandchildren looking at them and asking you: “Grandma and Grandpa? Is that really a book?”

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-Noah Fleisher

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