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Need Not, Wand Not: Inside the Bustling Market for Harry Potter Memorabilia

Need Not, Wand Not: Inside the Bustling Market for Harry Potter Memorabilia
April 27, 2023
Dylan Dittrich

Photo: Julien's

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They say the wand chooses the wizard. In fact, Mr. Ollivander was pretty damn adamant about it.

Here's the thing, though: Mr. Ollivander - J.K. Rowling's fabled wand maker in the Harry Potter Wizarding World - was a naive and out-of-touch old man.

He didn't realize that countless muggles would be ready, willing, and able to plunk down tens of thousands of dollars for a glorified stick. Turns out the money chooses the wand, pal. Sometimes in the non-wizarding world, money is the closest thing to magic we have.

This past weekend, Julien's Auctions sold $317,850 worth of wands used as props in the Harry Potter movies, amassing $460,269 in total Potter prop and memorabilia sales.

Naturally, it was the most powerful wand in the wizarding universe that drew the greatest sum. The Elder Wand, wielded by Albus Dumbledore in The Order of the Phoenix, sold for $130,000. It's unclear if ironclad provenance could be traced from Dumbledore to Voldemort to Harry Potter to discovery beneath a Hogwarts bridge. At that price, it's also unclear if the buyer knows none of that is actually real and the wand boasts no magical powers.

Still, kind of an incredible flex. Do any of your friends have one of the three Deathly Hallows in their mancaves? Didn't think so. And if they tell you they have the Cloak of Invisibility, well, props to them for the Fred and George Weasley sense of humor, but we don't really joke about such a serious topic...

Every single wand offered reached five-figures, even those belonging to bit-part players like Professor Lupin and Narcissa Malfoy, played by the late, great Helen McCrory.

Potter wands have attracted serious bidding in the past at Propstore and other venues. In fact, in June 2021, one of Harry's wand props from Deathly Hallows Part I sold for $53,125 at Propstore, a superior result to the $32,500 paid at Julien's last week for another Harry wand from the same film. Even "background" wands (carried by extras) and Ollivander wand boxes have sold comfortably in the mid-to-high four digits.

Overall though, the scope of Harry Potter collectible spend is ever-expanding. First edition copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, of which only 500 were printed, were worth $40-60k a few years ago. Today, they comfortably reach into six-figure territory, with a record price of $471,000. Wax-sealed Hogwarts acceptance letters from the first film were $5,000 items in the mid-2010s, and today they sell somewhat routinely for between $20-30k.

What started with the first edition books expanded to include film props and some trading cards at the high end, as well as Legos, Funko Pops, and countless other tchotchkes at the lower end.

The money paid today is eye-opening. Maybe to the outsider, those purchases give a very Hufflepuff (read: lame) vibe, but the tailwinds for the future seem significant:

  • The generation that grew up with the original Harry Potter books and movies is approaching its prime earning years
  • Despite controversy around J.K. Rowling, the Wizarding World franchise is one of the most valuable in existence and is incredibly well-diversified across revenue streams
  • The franchise remains relevant and continues to support new audience growth. The recent Hogwarts Legacy video game sold 12 million copies in its first two weeks, amassing $850 million in revenue on its own. An upcoming TV adaptation of the original books could further bolster its status in the modern conversation.

With cultural phenomena as significant as Harry Potter, dollars tend to flow to the source material and the OGs. Years or even decades down the road, it'll be fascinating to see if the Elder Wand is indeed magical enough to transform a handsome six-figure sum into vastly more money.

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