NEW YORK, NY.- The chair used by author J.K. Rowling while she wrote the first two Harry Potter books — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — will cross the auction block in New York on April 6, 2016.
Indeed, the aforementioned owner, who used the piece of furniture in her Edinburgh council flat, is the reason the item is expected to fetch more than $45,000 (£32,000) at auction.
“The international phenomenon that would become, and still is, Harry Potter had its humble beginnings in this modest old chair,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage Auctions, the company conducting the auction. “It’s inspiring to imagine the young mother and author settling down at her desk, seated in this chair, typing out the original manuscripts of her first two books.”
Rowling signed the backrest in the gold and rose paints. Then along the apron of the seat she painted: “I wrote / Harry Potter / while sitting / on this chair.”
The chair comes from a set that Rowling was given for her government housing flat when she was a young, single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rowling took the most comfortable of the chairs and used it as her main writing chair, authoring the first two of what would become one of the most influential series of all time: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (released in America as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
A few years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling donated the chair to a small auction in 2002 called Chair-ish a Child, in aid of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) where it went for £15,000. Rather than selling it in its original form, Rowling used gold, rose, and green paints to transform the chair into a piece of literary memorabilia.
On the stiles and splats, in gold and rose colors, she painted: “You may not / find me pretty / but don’t judge / on what you see.”
“Gryffindor” is painted on the cross stretcher under the seat.
Accompanying the chair is the original “Owl Post” that Rowling typed and signed to the winner of the Chair-ish a Child auction.
It reads: “Dear new-owner-of-my-chair~
I was given four mismatched dining room chairs in 1995 and this was the comfiest one, which is why it ended up stationed permanently in front of my typewriter, supporting me while I typed out ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and ‘Harry / Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.
My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t.
J. K. Rowling.”
James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions, said he would be surprised if the chair didn’t sell for at least $75,000.
“I think it easily could best $100,000 too,” he told the Guardian. “For me, what’s important about the chair is that [Rowling] basically created a unique artwork that’s self-reflexive. It’s all about her creation.
“There’s not that much in Harry Potter world that’s very valuable or very rare because the books were so big so quickly, so after the first couple of books, the first editions were quite large, and I think, by the end, they were printing like 8 million or 10 million copies of the first edition.”
Harry Potter memorabilia has attracted a lot of interest at auctions in the past. In 2013, a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, decorated with 22 illustrations by Rowling, sold for £150,000.
However, that didn’t come close to the £1.95 million paid for JK Rowling’s “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” in 2007. There are seven copies of the book, but this was the only copy available to the public.
The book was handwritten and illustrated by the author herself. She gave six copies to people who helped Harry Potter become phenomenal and auctioned the final copy with the help of Amazon for the benefit of Rowling’s own charity, Lumos.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans can also make the most out of the old versions of their books. AbeBooks recently sold a 1996 edition of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for a staggering $37,151.98. As per the company, only 500 copies of the early hardback edition went out for sale, making them rare.