One of the rarest Harry Potter books ever published is set to fetch thousands at auction after it survived being destroyed in a devastating fire.
Carina Haouchine was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when she won one of only 15 “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” competition prize editions in 2012.
It was published to mark the 15th anniversary of the Potter phenomenon and experts say it is technically the rarest edition that exists of the Philosopher’s Stone.
Signed and dedicated by author J.K. Rowling, the books were never released for sale – but Carina’s prized possession almost went up in flames at the start of this year.
The book luckily survived a blaze at her tenement flat in Glasgow, Scotland and she is now selling it at auction, where it is expected to fetch between £8,000-£12,000 ($10,100 -$15,151).
Carina’s pristine copy will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on September 5.
Carina, 26, a documentary film-maker from Scotland, said: “The book was kept hidden away in my childhood bedroom and then in the storage cupboard of my tenement flat in Glasgow.
“The tenement actually experienced a tragic fire at the beginning of the year.
“Thankfully nobody was injured but it is now uninhabitable. I’m very grateful the book survived!
“The ground floor of the building and stairwell were badly damaged but my flat, which was on the second floor, wasn’t affected – including the cupboard where the book was stored.”
She won it thanks to a competition organized by publisher Bloomsbury in 2012 to find the UK’s biggest Harry Potter fan.
Youngsters were invited to write a letter explaining why they loved Harry Potter and were encouraged to make their entry as elaborate as possible.
The winner received one of the exclusive books and a family vacation to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, while 14 runners-up received one of the books.
Carina spent time over the summer vacations creating her colorful entry which included a watercolor portrait on an envelope depicting the three main characters: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
She also made a hand-carved wand bearing a tag, “Douglas Fir with a phoenix feather core.”
Her entry letter stated, “I’ve grown up with Harry Potter. It was the first thing I was ever passionate about, and I always will be!”
Carina added: “I grew up with my mum reading me the Harry Potter books and the release of the film series sparked my passion for film.
“I am now a filmmaker and I’ve no doubt that the Harry Potter world played a part in that.
“At the time of the competition, it was the passion of my little brothers that kept it alive in me. In recent years it has become less important to me but it still makes me nostalgic to look back on it.
“I found out about the competition in a magazine. I really wanted to win the first prize of a family trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, especially as my little brothers were big Potter fans.
“I was very interested in production design in film and this inspired me to carve the wand, create a personalized chocolate frog card and hand-paint the envelope.
“I was ecstatic when I won. It felt amazing to be one of only 15 people chosen.
“But I have to admit I was also the littlest bit frustrated that I was a runner-up and had just missed out on the first-prize holiday.
“I am selling now because I recently got engaged to my girlfriend so the money from the sale would be very helpful to put towards our wedding and future.”
Jim Spencer, head of Hansons’ Library Auction, said: “This is technically the rarest edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“Only 15 copies were produced and they were never offered for sale.
“It’s not recorded in the invaluable J.K. Rowling bibliography by Philip W Errington, which proves how scarce it is.
“In fact, until last year, the public had no idea what this book even looked like because there was no visual record of its existence online.
“None of the competition winners had shared images, there was really only a brief record of the competition itself.
“That changed last year when Hansons Auctioneers sold the first known copy of one of these for Chloe Esslemont, who was also a runner-up in the Bloomsbury competition.
“That was the only known copy to have surfaced, let alone be offered for sale. It achieved £8,000 [$10,100].
“All of this emphasises the importance of this book and what a truly magical opportunity is in store for all Potterheads.
“The market is flooded with convincing forgeries of Rowling’s signature, so this is a golden opportunity to buy a signed book with absolute confidence in its authenticity.
“Adding to the appeal of the book, we have the original competition entry, a really charming portrait of the three main characters, and you’ve got to love the hand-carved wand.
“I catalogue books and manuscripts going right back to the medieval period, so I’m always conscious of posterity and how things will be perceived in the future.
“I predict that 100 years from now, this book, and the fan art that accompanies it, will be displayed in a museum.
“Not only did it survive the fire, it is an immaculate find. It comes with its original padded envelope from Bloomsbury and is in fine, unread condition.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker