BOOK EXPLORES ENCHANTED COLLECTIBLES CONJURED UP BY J.K. ROWLING’S BOY WIZARD
By Pamela Y. Wiggins
The enchanted realm inhabited by Harry Potter has captured the imaginations of children and adults alike for more than two decades. After all the books have been read and the movies have been viewed, those thoroughly charmed by the wizarding prowess of Potter and his friends look to a variety of inspired collectibles to keep the magic alive.
Until now, no one has explored in book form the vast array of collectible curiosities available to delight Potter fans. Eric Bradley, author and public relations director for Heritage Auctions, aptly fills a much-needed void with his new book Harry Potter – The Unofficial Guide to the Collectibles of Our Favorite Wizard (Krause Publications, $22.99).
KIDS & COLLECTING
From high-dollar gifts made by J.K. Rowling herself to handmade items even a kid can afford, Bradley’s text introduces readers to some awe-inspiring and fun-to-own objects. He recently talked about his adventures exploring this whimsical collecting offshoot of young adult literature, which appeals to many adults as well.
What motivated you to write this book?
When Krause Publications approached me to do the book, I was really excited. The timing was right: 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the first publication of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter edition. No one has ever done a survey of the art, rare book values, and memorabilia created during the last 20 years. The opportunity seemed really fun.
What are the most unusual Harry Potter collectibles you discovered while doing research for the book, and what makes them appealing to collectors?
The most unusual come from Rowling herself. She personally created several painstaking hand-written volumes of her books as gifts to those who brought her novels to market. Some of them are so richly elaborate that they could be considered works of art. I’m also infatuated with the items she used or came in contact with while writing the books. Heritage Auctions sold the chair she used to write the first two novels for nearly $400,000. That, to me, speaks to the passion behind Rowling’s creation and the fan base surrounding her magical world.
What are a few of the most expensive Harry Potter collectibles included in the book, and why do those items bring such high prices?
Some of the most expensive items are first-edition copies of the original printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Only 500 copies were printed and most all of them ended up in libraries. Those copies are now worth up to $80,000 … such as the copy Heritage Auctions sold in September. Other rarities include original art from these early books. They can bring several thousand dollars now as collectors who loved the books as children want to own a slice of the original elements that made the books so memorable in the first place.
What are some of the neat-yet-affordable options for kid collectors interested in Harry Potter items?
Movie posters from early films can be had for less than $25 in some cases. These make perfect collectibles for kids. Special-edition books are always popular, too. An especially hot collectible is the Marauder’s Map collectible as seen in the books and in the films. While working on the book, I discovered an entire world of craftspeople who recreate collectibles from the book. Usually these items are found on the crafting site Etsy.com and are remarkably affordable … sometimes as little as $15 to $20. These are unique collectibles, such as custom wooden wands, dolls, and jewelry that are completely one-of-a-kind collectibles.
Do you see Harry Potter limited-edition items as more appealing than other types of limited-edition collectibles, and why?
In the book, I caution people about purchasing limited-edition anything. Only the manufacturer knows just how “limited” the production of these items was when they were introduced. So the book really educates people on how to look for unique items and seek out rare collectibles, and highlights the difference in values between mass-produced items and the truly rare.
As a seasoned collector, what advice can you offer an adult who notices a child showing an interest in Harry Potter collectibles, and wants to nurture that curiosity?
The book series comes alive when it is read by both children and the adults in their lives. So many conversations can be had between kids and adults when reading the books – it can be a real bonding experience. Starting with mass-produced toys is a good way to begin a collection after that. On the collectibles front, I’m drawn to craftspeople creating their own collectibles by hand. Some are using 3D printers to make character figurines while others are creating items from wood. These items are good for older children who understand the difference between a collectible you keep and a toy you play with.
What makes Harry Potter collecting attractive to families?
The books and films are intellectually stimulating for adults and children. That’s the key, I think. The series gets darker and more foreboding as it moves through the story. That progression follows the classic hero archetype and the books introduce children to mythology and conventions that have been used in literature for thousands of years. Also, there is a huge and diverse fan base around the world that engages with readers online and in person. You can easily join a local fan group or book club no matter where you live. Major fan websites constantly share new perspectives on the novels. There is nothing else quite like the community that has developed around these characters and their trials. The initial response to Harry Potter – The Unofficial Guide to the Collectibles of Our Favorite Wizard has been so strong because it ties together the magic of the books, movies, fandom and collectibles in one package. It’s a great way to celebrate all that’s fun and fanatical about the wizarding world.
PAMELA Y. WIGGINS is the author of Collecting with Kids: How to Inspire, Intrigue and Guide the Young Collector, a book based on her columns in The Intelligent Collector.