Original cover art for ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ expected to set auction record

May 2, 2024, 9:50 AM

Children's book author and illustrator Thomas Taylor created the original cover art for J.K. Rowlin...

Children's book author and illustrator Thomas Taylor created the original cover art for J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone" at age 23, according to auction house Sotheby's. Mandatory Credit: Sotheby's via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — J.K. Rowling’s 1997 novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was the beginning of what would become a worldwide phenomenon. Now, the original illustration for the first edition of the book is going on sale.

Expected to sell for up to $600,000 at auction next month, it is the highest presale value ever placed on a Harry Potter-related item, according to auction house Sotheby’s.

The watercolor cover art was created by author and illustrator Thomas Taylor.

The image features young wizard Harry Potter – with his unmistakable dark, brown hair, round glasses and lightning bolt scar – ready to board the Hogwarts Express train for his first trip to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Taylor’s cover was used for several translated versions of the book, the auction house said. However, it was not used for the US edition of the book, which was released with the title “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

When the illustration was first up for auction at Sotheby’s in London in 2001, it sold for around four times its estimated sale price, for a record £85,750 (about $106,000), according to a Sotheby’s press release Thursday.

In June, “more than 20 years later, the original illustration returns to auction poised to not only far exceed the value it previously sold, but also to potentially set a new auction record for any Harry Potter related item,” the auction house said in the release.

The record for an item related to the book series is currently held by an unsigned first edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” which sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, in 2021, according to Sotheby’s.

Taylor, just 23 years old at the time, created the original cover image in two days, according to Sotheby’s.

At the time of the book’s publication, Taylor was working in a bookshop, where his colleagues would inform customers that their local bookseller was the illustrator of the high selling novel, according to Sotheby’s.

The illustration will be offered on June 26 at Sotheby’s in New York along with other works of English an American Literature.

The auction house will then offer one of J.K. Rowling’s handwritten original manuscripts for her 2007 book “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” on July 10.

The manuscript is one of six handwritten by the British author that was originally intended as gifts for people closely involved with the publication of “Harry Potter,” according to the release.

Both the illustration and the manuscript will be exhibited at Sotheby’s in New York between June 21 to 25.

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Original cover art for ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ expected to set auction record