14

The books make it clear that they offer the reverse service (see the following question: What Do the Gringotts Goblins Do With Muggle Money?).

According to the canonical answer to that question,

Q: When people trade in Muggle money for Wizard money, what does Gringotts do with the Muggle money?

JKR: Those goblins are sneaky people. They manage to put the Muggle money back into circulation. They are like "fences" --British slang, do you understand it? (src: America Online chat with JKR transcript, AOL.com, 19 October 2000)

The answer also makes reference to a comment by Dharini Chandrasekaran:

Just speculation, but squibs who go out into the muggle world to work will need Muggle money and also wizards might need it while doing Muggle studies research or trying to remain under cover, so I guess they keep it for reverse exchange.

This seems entirely reasonable speculation. Nevertheless, I don't recall any example in the books of converting Galleons to British pounds or other forms of Muggle currency. Does anyone have a more canonical source than speculation that indicates that this happens?

At one point in the books, Harry seems to overlook or ignore the possibility:

Stored in an underground vault at Gringotts in London was a small fortune that his parents had left him. Of course, it was only in the wizarding world that he had money; you couldn’t use Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts in Muggle shops. He had never mentioned his Gringotts bank account to the Dursleys; he didn’t think their horror of anything connected with magic would stretch to a large pile of gold. (CoS, Ch4, "At Flourish and Blotts"*)

(This passage was brought to my attention by DVK's answer here: Why didn't Harry Potter tell Aunt Petunia he was rich to improve how he was treated by Dursleys?)

But maybe he's just worried that if he converts some gold to Muggle money and tries to spend it, it will look suspicious if either Muggle authorities or the Dursleys find out.

Economically, I can't see any reason why they wouldn't offer this service. Galleons clearly have value, so the goblins should have no problem accepting them. They get some Muggle money from exchanges, and they seem resourceful enough to be able to obtain it in other ways if need be.

Converting wealth in the Wizarding world to wealth in the Muggle world is also the subject of the following question: Rich Wizards, Poor Muggles. However, I don't see an answer to my question there. One issue brought up is inflation of Muggle currencies, but as long as the goblins aren't printing Muggle money, I don't see why this would be a problem. There is also speculation that the Ministry of Magic doesn't want wizards to become suspiciously wealthy in the Muggle world.

Even if those answers are right, however, that doesn't answer my question. Gringotts could just restrict the amount of money that it will convert for a single person in a certain amount of time.

(In case it wasn't clear enough in previous versions of this question: I think that they do, but I wanted an answer that relies on more than speculation. Evidence could come from the books, direct or indirect, or from outside sources like author interviews, stuff like that. Economics in Harry Potter doesn't always seem to work the way I'd expect it to based purely on logic.)

  • The dupe question specifically addresses that they do change muggle money. There seems absolutely no logical reason why they wouldn't do the opposite – Valorum Nov 7 '15 at 23:39
  • I approve of the edit and I'm interested to see if there are any canonical sources that speak to this issue. – Valorum Nov 8 '15 at 0:18
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    Not a duplicate at all. *shaking my un-dupehammer meaningfully* – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 8 '15 at 0:19
  • If JKR is describing goblins as fences when it comes to Muggle money, then this implies that goblins are involved in money laundering in order to return Muggle money to the Muggle economy! – maguirenumber6 Feb 1 '16 at 13:46
20

Seems like they would. There are a couple of examples that leap out at me of wizards using Muggle money.

First, there's Mr Weasley at the Quidditch World Cup.

'You'll be paying now, then?' said Mr Roberts.

'Ah - right - certainly -' said Mr Weasley. He retreated a short distance from the cottage and beckoned Harry towards him. 'Help me, Harry,' he muttered, pulling a roll of Muggle money from his pocket and starting to peel the notes apart.

'This one's a - a - a ten? Ah yes, I see the little number on it now ... so this is a five?'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - p.71 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 7, Bagman and Crouch

Hard to see where he'd have got it from if not from the only wizarding bank. There's no mention of Harry giving it to him, or doing some kind of exchange and that would seem unfair on Harry - to expect him to come up with cash - and I would've thought Harry would've talked Mr Weasley through it - or held onto the money and just handled the payment himself, if it was his. Also, where would Harry have got the Muggle currency? Hermione could have given it to him, but, again, I would doubt it.

Another, more tenuous one is Archie, the wizard wearing the long flowery night-gown:

'I bought this in a Muggle shop,' said the old wizard stubbornly. 'Muggles wear them.'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - p.77 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 7, Bagman and Crouch

Given he says 'bought', money must have changed hands. Archie could have Confunded the cashier, I suppose, and handed over wizarding money - but that would surely be frowned upon by the Ministry of Magic. Might be a bit suspicious of wizards are routinely putting their currency into the Muggle world - not quite living up to the spirit of the Statute of Secrecy is it? And it's clear Archie doesn't have any Muggle blood in him, since he doesn't realise that a flowery night-gown is not suitable Muggle clothing for a man.

  • 1
    @There's also a quote in the CoS I believe in which Hermione says she has to exchange some money with Gringotts as Harry and the Weasleys go down to their vaults to pick up some moolah. – Anoplexian Mar 1 '16 at 20:25
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    @Anoplexian I believe you're thinking of the bit that's quoted in the question linked to in the beginning of this question, which is specifically Muggles changing money into wizarding money, not the other way around. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 5 '16 at 1:42
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Fair enough, must have missed that! – Anoplexian Mar 7 '16 at 15:08
9

Seems like they would. Not directly stated, but implied here:

Q: When people trade in Muggle money for Wizard money, what does Gringotts do with the Muggle money?

A: Those goblins are sneaky people. They manage to put the Muggle money back into circulation. They are like "fences" --British slang, do you understand it? (America Online chat transcript, AOL.com, 19 October 2000)

This is the only meaningful statement from JKR on the topic, and it's hard to make a conclusion with any certainty. But clearly, exchanging Wizard money back to Muggle money would be one of the ways to put it into circulation, although not quite sneaky enough to fit JKR's description. But since they do wish to "get rid" of their Muggle money, it stands to reason they would happily do it the "easy" way, if someone wanted them to.

I haven't found any other canon sources, including searching for money, currency and exchange on Accio, Pottermore, etc...

  • Oups... just realized that the quote is the one listed in the question. Yet, it's all we have from canon, AND it seems to imply a tenative answer. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 8 '15 at 0:32
  • Well, I edited it in. Yeah, I was not quite satisfied by that because "fences" seems to imply some kind of shady activity, and I didn't think currency exchange would be categorized that way. Maybe they're evading UK taxes or something though. – sumelic Nov 8 '15 at 0:58
  • @sumelic - lol. The question is better than the answer, in all honesty. But there's just no good answer that I can find. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 8 '15 at 1:44
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    Now I'm wondering about in book 4--Harry gets mail with Muggle postage stamps, and then at the Quidditch World Cup there's a man who complains about being paid in Wizard money. This might provide circumstantial evidence that wizards can obtain Muggle money, and since most of them don't have Muggle jobs, they can't exchange at Muggle banks, and Gringotts is the only wizarding bank, it seems like currency exchange there would be the only way for them to legitimately acquire it. – sumelic Nov 8 '15 at 1:49
  • @sumelic - might want to spin that into a separate answer. Sounds plausible, at least. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 8 '15 at 1:50

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