A surprise donation gives a fundraising boost to the Island’s RSPCA branch

By Press Release Feb 12, 2024

Staff at an RSPCA charity shop have received the anonymous donation of their
dreams – a Harry Potter first edition worth thousands of pounds.

They have no idea who gifted it but it’s set to create animal magic. The book will be auctioned to raise funds for the RSPCA Isle of Wight Branch and among beneficiaries will be the aptly named Harry, a dog in need of a loving home.

Rebecca Busby, fundraising, marketing and engagement officer at the RSPCA Isle of Wight Branch, said: “The book was gifted to one of our charity shops as a possible first edition. One of our volunteers – who is an avid Harry Potter fan and book enthusiast – checked for all the well known markers and noticed this book had them all.

“She called me and I could hear her excitement as she said, “I can’t believe it we have a Harry Potter first edition, it’s in the best condition I have ever seen. Please could you find somewhere to sell this, as we can’t sell it in the shop’.

“We were thrilled to have it valued at between £7,000 to £10,000. All funds raised from the sale of this book will directly go towards helping animals in our care now and in the future.”

One of the dogs who will benefit from the donation is another Harry, an 11-month-old cockapoo-type (pictured), who found himself in the care of the branch following his owners’ change in circumstances which meant they were unable to look after him. Rebecca said: “We are sure Harry will help his namesake, Harry the dog, find his magical home and enjoy an amazing new chapter in his life.”

When the book was discovered the RSPCA Isle of Wight team called in Jim Spencer, a world-renowned Harry Potter books experts at Hansons Auctioneers. Jim assessed the book and, thanks to its ‘exceptional condition’, guided it at £7,000-£10,000. It will go under the hammer in Hansons’ February 26 Library Auction.

Jim said: “This deserves to fly, especially for such a great cause. I hope collectors are generous with their bids and help the RSPCA, who do an amazing job caring for animals on the Isle of Wight. It would be very difficult to find another copy that’s as well-preserved as this one, so it deserves to set tails wagging at auction.

“This book represents the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Not many paperbacks published in the 1990s have the potential to fetch thousands of pounds at auction. Nobody predicted the huge popularity of Harry Potter, so these books were printed on cheap paper stock.

“This, coupled with the fact it’s a children’s book, means most examples are in very poor condition, showing signs of being swung about in a school rucksack, full of doodles, stained from orange squash, or, at the very least, faded at the spine from sunlight hitting the bookcase.

“This one is exceptional. The only minor flaws are a couple of lightly folded corners and the usual light browning to page edges, which is in fact a reassuring sign due to the cheap paper that was used. I’d be worried if the pages didn’t have this slight discolouration.

“It should appeal to collectors all over the world and the lucky buyer can be doubly happy in the knowledge money raised will help animals like Harry.”

Rebecca said: “We currently have over 50 pets in our care – including dogs, cats and rabbits – and due to the cost of living crisis we, like many animal charities, are struggling.

“More animals are coming into our care as owners struggle to support them and less people are adopting due to the costs involved. This is putting many RSPCA branches under immense strain as we are funded independently and rely on public support.

“Over the past decade our branch has helped rehome 4,126 pets and we are confident this donation will help us rehome many more, as the RSPCA celebrates its 200th birthday this year.”

To mark this special anniversary the animal welfare charity wants to inspire one million people to join their movement to improve animal’s lives. To find out how you can join, visit www.rspca.org.uk/200.