The book, which the family kept in a briefcase, nuclear-football-style, fetched almost $56,200 at auction on Thursday. “That’s magic,” commented the auctioneer at Hansons Auctioneers in the United Kingdom after bids closed on the book.
The copy of the book is a first edition that contains two errors, making it especially rare. There are only 500 such copies in existence.
The Independent reports that the couple who sold the book are retired civil servants, who will now, one imagines, be able to take several trips to Ibiza (or wherever it is British people go on “holiday”).
“The plan was to keep them as family heirlooms, which is why my wife put them in a briefcase,” one of the retirees, who very wisely chose to remain anonymous, said. “It was to stop the pages turning yellow.”
The wife’s decision was a good one. Experts predicted the book would fetch up to $36,000 at auction; it ended up selling for $20,000 more because of its pristine condition.
Harry Potter-related items traditionally do well at auctions. Last month, a similar copy of the first book in the series sold for $34,000 at auction.
Michael Schaub is an Austin, Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.