A RARE Harry Potter book bought for £12.99 has sold for nearly £70,000 at auction.

The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was kept in pristine condition for 25 years after its owner nearly returned it to a bookshop.

The hardback book was purchased in 1997 and has been stored in a protective sleeve ever since.

The seller, a retired paper merchant director from Sussex, almost let the valuable book slip through his fingers after nearly returning the book because it didn’t have a dust jacket.

The book, which is one of only 500 ever printed, has sold for £69,000 at Hansons Auctioneers.

The Argus: Harry Potter book owned by Sussex man sells for £70,000 at auctionHarry Potter book owned by Sussex man sells for £70,000 at auction

The 68-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, said he only kept the book "on the toss of the coin" after believing it had a fatal flaw.

“I’m very pleased with the result," he said. "Though it was a very good copy, the book wasn’t quite perfect.

"It won’t pay off my mortgage but it will go a long way towards it."

The book had been expected to fetch between £40,000 to £60,000.

The seller previously said: “I decided to keep the book. It was a moment of destiny.

“In recent years, I noticed Philosopher’s Stone first editions were selling well at auction but, as mine didn’t have a dust jacket, I didn’t think it could achieve those prices.

"Eventually I realised a dust jacket was not specified. Now I’ve reached the time of life when it would be useful to pay off the mortgage, so I’ve decided to sell.

"It’s not easy to part with. Collectors have difficulty selling their prized possessions.”

The copy was sold by Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire, on Wednesday, March 9.

The Argus: Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer

Hansons’ books expert Jim Spencer said he thought it was “too good to be true” when the book-owner approached him.

“I’m delighted for our vendor. It’s certainly a good return for the £12.99 he paid for the book – and he nearly asked for his money back because he thought it had a fatal flaw.

He added: "Everything added up perfectly. I couldn't believe it. It was like stepping back in time to 1997.”

Jim has sourced and sold 14 hardback first issues of Philosopher’s Stone with prices ranging from £17,000 to more than £60,000 dependent on condition.

In December 2021, a near pristine hardback first edition of Philosopher’s Stone sold for $471,000 (£349,186) from a $70,000 estimate at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, USA.