enter image description here
The above is the accepted symbol for the Deathly Hallows and is used by HP fans worldwide. However, while I was reading the books, the impression I got was of a slightly different symbol, namely:

                                                                    Altered symbol for the Deathly Hallows

This is because in the book, the symbol is most likely compared to being a 'triangular eye'

An odd symbol, rather like a triangular eye, glistened from a golden chain around his neck - p117, Ch8: The Wedding

Above what Harry assumed was the title of the story (being unable to read runes, he could not be sure), there was a picture of what looked like a triangular eye, its pupil crossed by a vertical line - p259, Ch16: Godric's Hollow

'The Elder Wand,' he said, and he drew a straight vertical line upon the parchment. 'The Resurrection Stone,' he said and he added a circle on top of the line. 'The Cloak of Invisibility,' he finished, enclosing both line and circle in a triangle to make the symbol that so intrigued Hermione. 'Together,' he said,'the Deathly Hallows.' - p332, Ch21: The Tale of the Three Brothers

It struck me that the second symbol is much more likely to be mistaken for a triangular eye than the first. In addition, the way Xenophilius Lovegood drew the symbol also implies that the Wand's line was not meant to extend past the circle of the Stone. The circle was added on top of the line, not on the bottom half of the line. Admittedly, this is open to interpretation.

As a follow-up question: Has the symbol for the Hallows always been the first symbol, or was it changed when the movies came out?

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    @Serpentotia ah different editions. Sounds like you've got the "adult" edition. Any case, Davidss beat me and my answer had nothing more than his but some random guessing XD we even used the same image haha (couldnt be bothered to crop mine) so ill make mine vanish)
    – Mac Cooper
    Sep 22, 2015 at 12:19
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    Though I prefer your version.
    – anon
    Sep 22, 2015 at 13:22
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    Is this question about what Rowling intended, or something else? If it's about Rowling's intent, I'm not sure the Bloomsbury cover is actually a conclusive answer. Sep 22, 2015 at 18:45
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    @KyleStrand It was about Rowling's intent when describing the symbol in the book. It was just something that I had been wondering about since I noticed the discrepancy between the symbol I had in my head and the symbol shown in the movie. However, if the symbol appears on the spine of the book itself (long before the movie was filmed), then that symbol is clearly what Rowling intended the symbol for the Deathly Hallows to be. I would welcome any answers that can provide more conclusive proof, but I felt that this was the closest I was going to get. Sep 22, 2015 at 19:22
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    @Serpentotia The book-jacket design is typically not under the author's control, and I don't know how much input Rowling had. Sep 22, 2015 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


Here's an image of the book, got by a Google search for "Deathly Hallows first edition". This certainly looks like the version I remember buying day of release. You can see on the spine the Deathly Hallows symbol.

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Higher res version here.

enter image description here


Regarding JK's involvement with the symbol - the only thing I could find was that JK wrote and illustrated the original 7 copies of Tales Of Beedle the Bard in late 2007. The print editions (according to wikipedia) "also includes illustrations reproduced from the handwritten edition auctioned in December 2007 and the introduction by the author". Here is the image of the Peverell gravestone from the standard edition.

enter image description here

So, assuming this is one of the original illustrations, either this is the symbol JK had in mind or, 6 months after release, she had resigned herself to this symbol.

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    so what's the merit in this? an edition is just a rendering of a text with hopefully value added, the symbol as it appears here may or may not have any connection to JKR whatsoever. If it does the fact needs explicit demonstration.
    – n611x007
    Sep 23, 2015 at 6:46
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    @naxa Part of the question asked if the symbol pre-dated the movie. The first edition cover clearly demonstrates this. As for the rest - see the comment thread on the question itself, but for my money I'd say JK was influential enough that she'd be able to veto any mistakes on her book.
    – DavidS
    Sep 23, 2015 at 8:29
  • thanks for the addition, now the answer is complete! These assumptions we share however let's keep the rational standard.
    – n611x007
    Sep 23, 2015 at 12:04

When I read Xenophilius's comment, I thought about the ambiguity of the sentence. I realised that it could still mean that he made a small circle on the line, which meant the line extended past the circle. Stating so explicitly would make it an awkward sentence.

Also, Xenophilius talks about how the Cloak encloses the Wand and the Stone in the symbol. This can also be taken to show that the wand extended past the stone. Otherwise just the stone would have enclosed the wand, wouldn't it?

I know it's a little vague, but that's how I convinced myself.

And I think the Bloomsbury cover is conclusive, because JKR would have definitely had a say.

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    She may had a say but then again in business things may or may not go completely to your liking and people assert varying degress of flexibility in letting others contribute. JKR may have merely let someone do one's work without nitpicking.
    – n611x007
    Sep 23, 2015 at 6:50
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    @naxa That may be true for others, but JKR wouldn't see it as nitpicking. She has an amazing level of attention to detail. And especially since it was the final book which tied up all the loose ends, she would have made sure everything was to her liking- fussy or no.
    – Brindha
    Sep 23, 2015 at 10:09

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