This guide is intended to help people collecting Harry Potter books, how to identify first printings and which books are actually scarce. I’ve been collecting Harry Potter books for the last eight years. All of the information on the Australian firsts is based on my own collection.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
British first. The first two printings were issued without a dustwrapper. This carries the full numberline 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, printed in July 1997, with the Uk editions printed by Clays.
“According to the Bloomsbury, the publisher, the first printing was limited to just 500 hardback copies with most of these intended to go to the U.K. school library system. It seems that even this number of trade copies may be too high, as it appears that while in truth there were 500 copies, they were divided into 350 hardcover copies and 150 proof copies. These first editions are scarce, and quite pricey”
The first Australian printings (these do have a dustwrapper) are also dated 1997, with Joanne Rowling credited on the title page and £10.99 on the dustwrapper. There is no evidence they were actually printed here in 1997 as later printings carry the same printing date. This run was printed by Australian Print Group, Maryborough, and it appears there was a small print run of hardcovers.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
British First. Printed by Clays July 1998. The First Edition has the full number line, down to “1″, on the copyright page. It was issued with a dustwrapper illustrated by Cliff Wright, with a price of £10.99. According to Bloomsbury there was 10,150 copies printed.
The Australian first is dated 1998, with adverts on the rear pages for Philosopher’s Stone and Azkaban. The dustwrapper is not priced. Printed by Australian Print Group, Maryborough.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
British First. 10,000 copies Printed by Clays July 1999. This edition has what is known as ‘Three States’
“The First Edition has the full number line, down to “1″, on the copyright page. It was issued with a dustwrapper illustrated by Cliff Wright, with a price of £10.99. This book is also in illustrated boards (covers) with the illustration matching that on the dustwrapper.
The trade edition has a number of points. The first issue states ‘Copyright Joanne Rowling’ on the copyright page, whereas the second issue is amended to ‘J.K. Rowling’. Also on the first page of text (p. 7), there is a misaligned text block with some dropped text. Clays Ltd. is listed as the printer. The speculation is that the errors were discovered early in the print run. Early thought was there were only 500 copies with these errors. It is now assumed that there were actually about 2500 of these copies.
The second state has J.K. Rowling listed as copyright holder. In addition, the dropped text on page 7 is corrected. Clays Ltd. is also still noted as the printer. There are no black and white advertisements in the back of the book. Based on the number of copies offered for sale, and the number of copies seen, this state actually seems to be scarcer than the first state, although the number of these is undetermined, and based on the publishing numbers should not be so.
The so-called third state is very interesting. It lists J.K. Rowling as the copyright holder, and has the corrected text on page 7. It also has an added 2 pages of black and white advertisements for the first 2 books at the back of the book. This is also lacks the Clays Ltd. imprint, and lists no firm as the printer. This state is the most common of the three, but again there has been no determination on the number of these that were printed.
One has to wonder what the third state really is. Why would Bloomsbury stop the presses to add the 2 pages of advertisements, if they did not add the advertisements when they made the error corrections to the first state? Why is Clays Ltd. not noted as the printer? Who (or where) printed these copies? Could these actually be the first Australian editions? Especially as we have yet to see or hear of an Australian first. These are questions that still need to be answered.”
I have been collecting these for several years, and the earliest printing I can find by Australian Print Group, Maryborough, is a third printing, or 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3.
I have a first and second printing in the ‘third state’, both with the printer missing. We can only assume that either there is an error on the Australian first edition where is lacks a printer imprint, or there was never any printed here.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Printed by Clays London July 2000, and by Omnia Press Scotland. As the Omnia print run was smaller (250,000 by Omnia and 750,000 copies by Clays) the Omnia print is considered a collectable title. Although at one million copies it cannot realistically be called a scarce book.
“This book has some booksellers listing copies with “storyline errors” on pages 503 and 579 that were supposedly corrected during the first print run. These “points of issue” however still exist in at least the seventh printing, so it is doubtful that these are actually errors or misprints.”
These have actually been corrected in paperback editions, but again, as they are not real “errors” don’t add a great deal of value.
The Australian first edition states ‘First Australian Edition’, printed by Australian Print Group, 2000, no price on the dustwrapper.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2003 – Australian First States “First edition’ on the copyright page (later printings will have a numberline) and printed by McPhersons.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 2005 – Australian First States “First edition’ on the copyright page with a numberline 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2, printed by Griffin Press.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2007 – Australian First States “First edition’ on the copyright page (later printings will have a numberline) and printed by Griffin Press.
Bloomsbury have stopped releasing the print run size, but they were in the millions, and none of these books are presently worth much above retail. There is some books that come out misprinted. An argument I often have with (comic-book) Dave is the supposed ‘value’ of misprintings in books. A misprinted comic is considered defective and not worth a cent, whereas a misprinted book will often be ‘considered’ rare.
Remember it is really only considered rare by the person trying to sell it to you. I have a lovely misprinted Canadian Harry Potter which sits in my collection, which delights me to no end, but which I only paid what I might pay for a hardcover copy in a bookshop. It is nice to have quirky books amongst the collection, but they will have no value whatsoever later on, so I don’t advise you pay a great deal for them.
Large Print Editions:
These are lovely editions and I am lucky enough to have a full set of these. They were printed from 2000 onwards (you will notice a Warner Bros copyright on the copyright page) and as most large print, are printed mainly for libraries. The Philosopher’s Stone first printing is worth a little more, sometimes fetching a few hundred dollars, and is into reprints now. Most are worth a little above retail, a full set of first printings may be worth paying a bit for as they’re getting a little harder to find, but don’t go paying thousands for them.
These were printed in the UK only.
The first four deluxe editions by Bloomsbury (only published in the UK) all carry a full numberline. The first three were published simultaneously in 1999, with Goblet of Fire published in 2000, subsequently carrying the same ‘printing errors’ as the trade hardback.
These did have a relatively small print run and are certainly worth paying extra for a first printing.
But, a note on the supposed ‘first state’ Prisoner of Azkaban Deluxe edition. There is no such thing, it does not exist and the supposed ‘error’ of using Joanne Rowling on the copyright page does not add value to the book. If it was an error it would have been corrected by the second printing, and not carried on until the tenth printing. If you pay hundreds of dollars for a 10th printing on this book, you are being completely fooled. You could pop into your local Angus and Robertson and pay 49.95 for a tenth printing with the exact same text.
As for sellers combing books for spelling mistakes, etc, none of this will add value to the book. Millions of books have small typos, it does not make them scarce.
Remember you will pay more for first and early printings of the first three or four books, but the print runs on the last three books were massive, so do your research. And happy hunting!
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