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Witch Lit Creeps Up on James Joyce

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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HARRY DEAL? Potter book

When an anonymous bidder paid just over $40,000 for a pristine copy of a first-edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone last week at Christie's auction house, the world was reminded that Harrymania is far from over.

The Potter copy sold at auction was one of 500. A first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses goes for $67,500, says Adam Gorfin of Urus Rare Books in New York, but he tells Radar, "Desirability and rarity trump age by far." He did, however, agree that such a massive sales price is unusual.

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In the canon of children's literature, the first-edition Potter even trumps a first-edition, cloth-covered Huckleberry Finn, which can be had for the pauper's sum of $17,000. Take cold comfort, however, in the fact that J.K. Rowling has miles to go before she gets to the lofty status of the Bard. Last year a first edition Shakespeare sold for north of $5 million.

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