Specifically: why does everyone refer to the art that is reproduced at the beginning of most HP editions (complete with motto) as the actual crest of Hogwarts and not just like any other piece of cover or inside art.

I know that JKR has said in some interviews that Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus is the school motto and (if I remember well) that there is a broad-strokes description of the coat of arms in Goblet of Fire.

(I'm sorry if this is a loaded question and it isn't canon after all.)

  • 1
    FWIW JKR has hand-drawn the crest in her "personal copy" full of handwritten notations that was IIRC auctioned for charity i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/05/18/…. While it may be that she simply copied the existing one (as opposed to having created it herself) it could suggest that she now considers it canon regardless. Here it can be seen that the first edition DID NOT have the crest
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:30
  • 1
    IIRC the crest is based on a sketch from JKR
    – ibid
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


The crest has been seen on the inside cover of various editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone.

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For added "canon" weight, there's a signed copy available here for just £4950

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JKR also hand-drew her own version of the crest in a volume that she later auctioned for charity. It fetched £150,000 if you happen to be looking for an investment

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Interestingly, the very first instance of the motto seems to be on the Official Harry Potter Fan Club certificates. I've been unable to find a scanned copy of one, but there's a mention here in a Telegraph interview from 1997.

and in the interview below, she discusses why she chose it.

SF: And names like that. Even the school crest is something which is rather fun for those of us who have done a bit of Latin. For instance: “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus” – it’s sort of like “Let sleeping dogs lie”, but it is “Don’t tickle a sleeping dragon”.

JKR: “Don’t tickle a sleeping dragon”, exactly.

SF: Which is fine advice.

JKR: I wanted good practical advice. All the schools I’ve ever been to or taught in have mottos: “Persevere”, “Onwards and Upwards”. I wanted good solid practical advice for Hogwarts

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