Just how rich is Harry Potter in USD?
Wealth and social status are two major themes in the Harry Potter series. Although they are “pure-blood,” families like the Weasleys are considered by many of the characters to be very low class because of their lack of money. Harry Potter, on the other hand, was left quite the fortune when his parents died.
Wizard currency is used throughout the books from the moment when Harry is woken up by an owl demanding payment for Hagrid’s delivery of the Daily Prophet, and the relationship between the three types of coins is explicit (29 knuts to a 1 sickle and 17 sickles to a galleon). However, nowhere does J. K. Rowling suggest how the Wizarding currency relates to a Muggle one.
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Reddit user aubieismyhomie has done the math and claims to have figured out a reasonable exchange rate with the US dollar. He took amounts that we know about such as the cost of candy on the Hogwarts Express, textbooks, butterbeer, and a ride on the Knight Bus, and compares them to what he thinks they would cost in the Muggle world. This is what he came up with:
A Knut: about $.05
That seems pretty reasonable — a wand would cost about $175, a butterbeer or a hot chocolate would be about $3, and an expensive textbook would be about $225.
Since the user noted every single mention of money in the book, he was able to report that the most expensive object mentioned was the Cursed Necklace (1,500 galleons or about $35,000) and that the least expensive item was beetle eyes that were sold for 5 knuts ($0.25) per scoop.
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Knowing these values also gives some insight into just how rich Harry Potter was, especially compared to the Weasleys. At the World cup, Harry spent 30 galleons ($750) on gifts for his friends — you can’t say he isn’t generous — but when the Weasley family emptied their Gringotts vault, it contained nothing but one galleon and a pile of sickles.
As a reader mentioned in one of the comments, Ron mentions that he could never confuse his DA fake galleon coin with a real one because he never has any. If you think about it, that means that he never even has $25 to spare!
It’s a good thing that Ron wasn’t more angry at Harry and Hermione when he left them in the woods in the final book of the series, because the reward for Harry’s capture was $2.5 million, and he really could have used that money!