39

From Chamber of Secrets:

In Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop, they met Fred, George, and Lee Jordan, who were stocking up on Dr. Filibuster’s Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks, and in a tiny junk shop full of broken wands, lopsided brass scales, and old cloaks covered in potion stains they found Percy, deeply immersed in a small and deeply boring book called Prefects Who Gained Power

Why would a shop, even a junk shop, sell broken wands? It's not like they have any value. Nearly every instance in the book a broken wand is used, it fails or backfires spectacularly. So what value is there to broken wands?

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    Well I guess you should always carry a broken wand in your robes. That way, when going to the loo, you can fend off trolls without having to dirty your regular wand, unlike some first-year newbies. – Jenayah May 1 '18 at 16:50
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    Maybe broken wands have some magical properties left in them. Maybe some wizards keep a lot of broken wands in their dwellings in hope of good luck. Maybe some wizards repair broken wands to use for some purpose. Maybe some wizards drain residual magic out of broken wands to re energize their own wands. Maybe some wizards like to show broken wands and boast that they defeated the owners of those wands. Maybe wand makers plant broken wands with trees they are growing for wand wood. There are many possible reasonable or silly reasons for wizards to buy cheap enough broken wands. – M. A. Golding May 1 '18 at 16:57
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    One could always break them down for their cores and sell those... – JohnP May 1 '18 at 18:42
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    I think this question has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the phrase "junk shop" means. Junk shops and junk yards are places that accumulate items of little or no worth to most people, with the hope that at some point they might have value to someone. There's no requirement that there be a demand for the items. – barbecue May 2 '18 at 16:45
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    Note that lopsided brass scales are also totally useless for their intended purpose. – kundor May 2 '18 at 22:45
46

Broken wands can be used to perform magic

Hagrid's wand was snapped by the Ministry of Magic. Yet, that didn't stop him from giving Dudley a pig's tail.

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Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, “NEVER —” he thundered, “— INSULT — ALBUS — DUMBLEDORE — IN — FRONT — OF — ME!” He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudley — there was a flash of violet light, a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pig’s tail poking through a hole in his trousers.

-Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Hagrid hid the broken pieces in his umbrella, was able to perform magic perfectly well.

“Good wand, that one. But I suppose they snapped it in half when you got expelled?” said Mr. Ollivander, suddenly stern. “Er — yes, they did, yes,” said Hagrid, shuffling his feet. “I’ve still got the pieces, though,” he added brightly. “But you don’t use them?” said Mr. Ollivander sharply. “Oh, no, sir,” said Hagrid quickly. Harry noticed he gripped his pink umbrella very tightly as he spoke.

'But You Don't Use Them' clearly proves that broken wands can be used.

  • 5
    It is not mentioned that Hagrid used pieces of his original wand. Neither Harry nor Ron could use a broken wand to perform any decent magic. There could be two more possible explanations: 1. someone made him another wand in secret, and concealed it into his umbrella (likely). 2. Someone tricked the wizards to crack a fake wand in halves, and gave the original to Hagrid in secret (unlikely). Both versions are pure speculation, but still possible. – TimSparrow May 1 '18 at 17:55
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    @TimSparrow Gripping the umbrella tightly makes me suspect that it's the actual wand. But, yes, scenario 1 in your explanation is also possible. – Simpleton May 1 '18 at 17:59
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    I like this answer. Adding a broken wand into an object makes it into something that can be used to perform magic without having to muck around getting your own wand down from the mantlepiece. – Valorum May 1 '18 at 18:36
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    @TimSparrow A point in that second quote, not currently bolded: Ollivander specifically asks "But you don't use them?" - this implies that the premier wand-maker in the UK believes or knows that a broken wand can be used to cast spells. If he knew it was impossible to do so, he wouldn't ask that question. – Chronocidal May 1 '18 at 19:48
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    @TimSparrow: Harry successfully used the Elder wand to repair his wand, which could not otherwise be repaired. Dumbledore wielded the Elder wand before Harry came to Hogwarts, and likewise very likely repaired Hagrid's wand secretly after being convinced of his innocence. Naturally, he would have hidden the repaired wand in the pink umbrella and told Hagrid never to reveal that. That would explain why Hagrid's umbrella does not seem to have any problems functioning. – user21820 May 2 '18 at 6:09
19

Broken wands can be upcycled into art or building material.

Broken wands can be used for kindling.

Broken wands can serve as decorative Tchotchkes.

Relatedly, broken wands may carry historical significance of:

  • a period (e.g., the old-timey glass telephone wire insulators)
  • a wand maker (e.g., the historical significance of a Stradivarius, even a broken one)
  • an owner (e.g., "That's Hardswobble Hechidee's second wand on the mantel there! The one he broke helping clear the Great Swarguswump Infestation of 1916").
  • 1
    Any answer must explain why muggle stores don't sell broken broomsticks, The only decent point is your last one. If you expand on that, especially if you provide canon proof, I'd accept it. – TheAsh May 1 '18 at 17:46
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    @TheAsh Broomsticks aren't part of the question I answered, and have a very different aesthetic value than broken wands. My answer does not need canon support, the same way cannon support isn't required for evidence that witches menstruate: it's prima facie that human beings, of which wizards and witches are members, do these kinds of things across the globe. You should take a trip to the local thrift store and see the kinds of stuff folks actual do buy. :) – Lexible May 1 '18 at 17:50
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    @TheAsh Go to a second-hand shop or a yard sale (or "junk shop" as it's called in the quote you provided for the question), one where you'd be likely to to find stained, torn, or otherwise damaged clothing, and I wouldn't be surprised if you found a broomstick for sale that was damaged (cracked, missing many of its straws, or otherwise). – Doc May 1 '18 at 21:32
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    @TheAsh Finding a shop that sells clothes in as much disrepair as the quote mentions the robes being in will likely lead you to find all manner of items that are apparently broken, damaged, and unusable, but still for sale so that they may be repaired, used in such poor condition, used for scrap parts for other projects, or even used as decoration or what have you. Go to a junk yard that sells whatever you find by weight, for example. Guarantee you could find a broom in there somewhere. – Doc May 1 '18 at 21:33
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    @TheAsh your claim that muggle junk stores do not sell such items needs proof. Having been in many a junk shop I can assure you people can and will collect pretty much anything and try to sell it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rag-and-bone_man – barbecue May 2 '18 at 16:54
16

For parts. The wand cores are often made of valuable materials.

These materials may be able to be salvaged. Even if they are damaged they could be used in potions.

If the used wands are cheap they could be a cheaper source of potion ingredients for those willing to spend the time extracting them.

7

I'll admit this is not referenced in canon works upfront (that I know about).

Wands have 2 parts, the wood and the core. Any hollow, slender bit of wood could be broken with whatever is in the center remaining intact

This could be of use in a number of ways. A wizard or witch might study wandlore and broken wands would be a good material to start investigating how the core of the wand works.

You can reverse engineer even from broken things. The snapped wood of a wand might tell a fledgling wand maker a great deal about how to craft a wand.

Finally, If you have an intact core, you could craft an entirely new wand around it. This could be something an experienced wand maker might have an apprentice do, since new wand cores would be a rare and valuable material. That way, the apprentice can learn without wasting the good stuff.

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    Shouldn't it be written as "Wandlore" since that's how it's written in the books? – methuseus May 2 '18 at 7:54
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    edited @methuseus – Paul TIKI May 2 '18 at 12:45
7

It is possible that the cores of the broken wands may be useful.

Before Garrick Ollivander came onto the scene, people used many different types of wand cores:

Prior to Mr Ollivander’s proprietorship of the family business, wizards used a wide variety of wand cores. A customer would often present the wandmaker with a magical substance to which they were attached, or had inherited, or by which their family swore (hinted at by the core of Fleur Delacour’s wand). Mr Ollivander, however, was a purist who insisted that the best wands would never be produced merely by encasing the whiskers of a favourite Kneazle (or the stalk of a Dittany plant that once saved a wizard’s father from poisoning, or the mane of a kelpie a witch had once met on holiday in Scotland) in the customer’s favourite wood.

Mr. Ollivander by J.K. Rowling on Pottermore

So even though Mr. Ollivander is the finest wandmaker in the world, there may be some wizards that want to use a different maker, and depending on how old the wands in the junk shop are, they could contain different cores that weren't readily available for purchase in modern times.

Even if the broken wand is one of the "three cores" (phoenix feather, dragon heartstrings, unicorn hair) it seems that is possible to replace your core (although it seems this is only a problem with unicorn hair):

Minor disadvantages of unicorn hair are that they do not make the most powerful wands (although the wand wood may compensate) and that they are prone to melancholy if seriously mishandled, meaning that the hair may ‘die’ and need replacing.

Wand Cores by J.K. Rowling on Pottermore

Although I am not sure why you would go to anyone but Mr. Ollivander in the first place because you are not going to the best wand possible:

While there was initially substantial resistance to this revolutionary way of crafting wands, it swiftly became clear that Ollivander wands were infinitely superior to anything that had come before. His methods of locating wand woods and core substances, marrying them together and matching them to ideal owners are all jealously guarded secrets that were coveted by rival wandmakers.

ibid

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    @TheAsh The link at the top of the answer. – Feathercrown May 3 '18 at 14:56
2

You have to remember that these broken wands are being sold by a joke shop. So the real question is: Exactly what kinds of jokes can one pull with a broken wand? Some suggestions:

(a) In the same spirit as Puking Pustules and Nosebleed Nougat: Getting out of class. "I'm so sorry, Professor Flitwick, I can't do any magic - see, my wand is broken!" [note: this won't work more than a few times before the teachers catch on]

(b) If you can match another student's wand, you can pull a fast one on him/her - you 'accidentally' run into him/her, stuff clatters to the floor, you reach down and say "Oh, geez, I broke your wand!" [student's face goes white] Show the actual wand: "Haha, fooled you!".

(b') Same as (b) in reverse, by matching your own wand. "You IDIOT! YOU BROKE MY WAND!"

  • 1
    Agreed with the joke on other students, but as for the "joke on teacher", it may not be doable. In this question we see that McGonagall, at least, don't seem to mind if her students' wands are broken (I don't think she just "didn't notice", given how meticulous she seems to be). – Jenayah May 1 '18 at 18:24
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    Sorry, but you've misread the quote. They visit the joke shop, then a junk shop. These wands are in the junk shop – Valorum May 1 '18 at 18:37
1

Some broken wands are repairable, and then can be used ‘whole’.

When Harry shows Ollivander his broken wand, Ollivander tells him that with the degree of damage his wand has, none of the ways he knows could fix it. He doesn’t say broken wands can never be fixed - if he knew that it was impossible, he’d say that rather than ‘it’s too damaged for me to fix’.

“Ollivander held out a trembling hand and Harry placed the two barely connected halves into his palm. ‘Holly and phoenix feather,’ said Ollivander in a tremulous voice. ‘Eleven inches. Nice and supple.’

‘Yes,’ said Harry. ‘Can you –?’

‘No,’ whispered Ollivander. ‘I am sorry, very sorry, but a wand that has suffered this degree of damage cannot be repaired by any means that I know of.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)

This indicates that, although they wouldn’t work on Harry’s wand or any wand with a comparable amount of damage, that Ollivander does know of ways to fix broken wands. This also means that there are cases where the wand isn’t quite as badly broken, and can be successfully repaired. Therefore, broken wands can sometimes be fixed into usable ones, and can have value due to that. The other things we know are in the junk shop, lopsided brass scales and old cloaks covered in potion stains, also fit the description of things that are worn-down but may be salvageable.

The junk shop seems to be a way for wizards to get used items presumably for much cheaper than buying it new and in good condition. Most wizards prefer getting new wands and would typically buy other items secondhand if they needed to save money, but pay full price for a new wand that’s chosen them. However, if they still couldn’t manage to afford a new wand, buying a broken wand and attempting to fix it (particularly because of the limited demand for secondhand wands) would likely be a lot cheaper than the seven Galleons needed to buy a new wand from Ollivander.

“Most witches and wizards prefer a wand that has “chosen” them to any kind of secondhand wand, precisely because the latter is likely to have learned habits from its previous owner that might not be compatible with the new user’s style of magic.”
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard

So, it’s possible they sell broken wands for wizards who can’t afford new wands to mend and use.

  • 1
    Very well reasoned. – TheAsh Aug 21 '18 at 11:01
  • @TheAsh Thanks! :) – Bellatrix Aug 21 '18 at 17:26

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