For Sale: The Chair J.K. Rowling Sat On While She Wrote Harry Potter - Atlas Obscura
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For Sale: The Chair J.K. Rowling Sat On While She Wrote Harry Potter

It’s a pretty magical object.

At first glance, it looks like the kind of chair you’d find abandoned on a curb—armless, beat-up, scrawled all over with gold paint. But tomorrow, someone will pay tens of thousands of dollars for it.

This humble chair, up for sale tomorrow morning at New York’s Heritage Auctions, was the site of the literary alchemy that produced the first two Harry Potter books.

According to MarketWatch, Heritage Auctions describes the chair as “a standard 1930s era oak chair with a replacement burlap seat decorated with a red thistle.” J.K. Rowling got four of them while living in public housing in Edinburgh, and chose this one to write on because it was “the comfiest,” she says in a signed letter that goes along with the chair.

Unlike most of that series’ enchanted objects, this one gives up its secret easily: look closer, and the writing around the seat says “I WROTE HARRY POTTER WHILE SITTING ON THIS CHAIR.” The back splats offer up a quote from the sorting hat (“You may not think I’m pretty, but don’t judge on what you see”), while the top of the backrest boasts Rowling’s signature. Other decorations include lightning bolts and the word “Gryffindor.”

According to the Associated Press, the chair has already sold twice before, at charity auctions in 2002 (for $21,000) and 2009 ($29,000). This time, the current pre-bid is $65,000. Magic!

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.