A 33-year-old named Harry Potter is selling his copy about his famous wizarding namesake after discovering it was actually a highly valuable first edition.
Harry’s copy of The Philosopher’s Stone, the first in the hugely successful series, was a gift from his dad due to the name coincidence when it was released in 1997.
And he plans to turn the fun gift into a lasting legacy after his dad was left flabbergasted by the lead character’s name in the JK Rowling series.
Proceeds from the sale of the rare copy of the book will be used to honour his late father.
The hardback copy, which is one of only 500 in the first print run, is heading to auction at Hansons Auctioneers, based in Etwall in South Derbyshire, on October 7, with a guide price of £20,000 to £30,000.
Harry, a 33-year-old national sales manager, was eight when the the first copies of Harry Potter hit the shelves.
Thanks to ‘Pottermania’ and the massive fanbase, he’s spent the last 25 years trying to convince people his name actually is Harry Potter.
“People just don’t believe me,” said Harry, a dad-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 holiday in Greece, she didn’t believe me either. People think it’s a wind up. I’ve had the Mick taken out of me over the years but you get used to it.
“I’m quite outgoing and I’ve handled it pretty well, plus it has its pros. When I was 12 and the first Potter film was released, we were invited to be family of the week on the Big Breakfast TV show. I met lots of stars, including Gwen Stefani and Ben Stiller.
“My current boss, Steve Barrett at Diamond Cut Refinishing Ltd, assumed my surname was Shaw because that’s my mum’s new married name and she works for him.
“When he found out I’m called Harry Potter he said he should have paid me more because people would always remember me.
“When you ring someone up and they ask your name they usually dissolve into laughter or say ‘you’re joking’. It makes making 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. Being four years older than Harry, she has vivid memories of the book’s arrival at the family home in 1997.
She said: “I remember dad bursting through the front door after work brandishing a book, proclaiming ‘you’ll never believe what I’ve got!’. At first glance we were confused.
“Had someone written a book for Harry? Our Harry Potter? Dad explained that he’d heard Terry Wogan mention Harry Potter on Radio 2 and, once he had gathered Terry was referring to an award-winning children’s’ book – not his then eight-year-old son – he turned his van round, drove straight to Bay Tree Bookshop in Waterlooville and bought us a copy.
“The novelty and coincidence of the namesake was what made us open that first book but the magic of the story kept us turning the pages for years.
“Harry was eight and I was 12 when we first read the books together. I would read aloud and despite calling Hermione ‘Hermy-one’ until at least half way through The Chamber of Secrets, my Dobby impression is second-to-none.
“The book had pride of place on the windowsill next to my bed, and was eventually joined by the whole collection. They’ve stayed on a shelf or a windowsill in every house I’ve lived in for 20 years. It was treasure to us long before it had any value to the rest of the world.
“Our dad 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 shortly after this we realised the old book we’d loved and treasured for 20 years was a sought-after first edition copy.
“Our dad, David James Potter, was a wise and loving man who believed the richest people were those who lived life to its fullest, and that experience had more value than money.
“Selling the book then, despite its financial value, was of no interest to us. It was one of few lasting, tangible treasures we had from our dad. So, the book was retired to a protective sandwich bag in the cupboard under the stairs, and there it remained for four years.
“Over time we realised the book had changed for us. We knew rare first editions were selling for tens of thousands of pounds. It wasn’t any longer something we could enjoy, or love, without fear of damaging it.
“We aren’t investors or collectors, we’re two grown-up kids who would like to enjoy life the way our dad prescribed – to its fullest. The book is the legacy dad left us to do that.”
“With the proceeds from the sale, we would like to take dad’s ashes to Africa, the place he asked to finally rest, where we can make new and fantastic memories with our own children and families.
“After all, ‘it does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live’ – Albus Dumbledore’.”
Harry added: “We think now’s the time to use the money to benefit our families and do something dad wanted. I have three small children – Hugo, five, Arthur, two and Maggie, 19 weeks – and Katie has Freddie.
“Funnily enough Hugo and Arthur are both names of characters in Potter books but the choice was accidental.”
Katie, who’s married to Olympic sailor Alain Sign, added: “Freddie’s middle name is George. We chose it because we thought it just sounded right. Later we realised it sounded right because of Fred and George, the Weasley twins in the Potter books!
“Being Harry Potter’s sister has been hilarious – mad at times. When I told people my name was Katie Potter they’d often say, ‘Have you got a brother called Harry’ and I’d have to say ‘yes’.
“I know there are one or two other Harry Potters in the UK but, as far as I’m aware, only a couple were given the name before the Potter books came out.
“I think my brother got national attention when he was younger because he was a similar age to the character in the book when it first came out.”
The hardback first issue of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is due to be sold on October 7 at Hansons Auctioneers.