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In the film's designs of the wands they are very intricate. I always thought it was over the top and imagined the wands in the books were supposed to look plain and basically all the same, except maybe for the length and wood color\texture. But then it probably could lead to a problem when one can confuse his own wand with someone else's. Which never happens. Actually we see in The Goblet of Fire when Harry loses his wand:

"You were found with a wand in your hand!" - barked Mr.Diggory, brandishing it in front of her. And as the wand caught the green light that was filling the clearing from the skull above, Harry recognized it.

I mean, how different should a wand look so that Harry could recognize it from distance in the dark, in motion and lit only by the dim greenish light?

So I wonder, do all wands in the books have creative designs like they have in the movies?

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  • +1. I would add that also the chapter art for "Diagon alley" in the first book shows a bunch of identical wands on a chair. – MBEllis Dec 6 '20 at 15:08
  • Highly related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/18513/… – Alex Dec 6 '20 at 18:21
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    Not a primary source (though I think JKR had more input on the visual elements here than on the movies), but on Pottermore / Wizarding World the wands are quite plain and very similar one another, the only differences being the length and the color. – lfurini Dec 7 '20 at 17:35
  • "barked Mr. Diggory, brandishing it in front of her... Harry recognized it" did we have a gender bending moment retyping that? – FreeMan Dec 7 '20 at 18:09
  • @FreeMan "her" refers to Winky here, she was left out of the quote – Shana Tar Dec 7 '20 at 18:17
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As with any matter of written literature, the wands in the Harry Potter novels look exactly like how you imagine them to look!

I don't recall JKR describing the wands in great detail in the books, apart from wandlore descriptions like "made of such-and-such wood" or "inflexible" or "dragon heart string core".

It appears, from this article, that JKR was consulted by the movie makers as to how the wands actually look.

Before the movies came along, you had to imagine what the wands actually looked like. The movie wands, in consultation with J.K. Rowling, were designed especially for the films.

But, it was down to the movie design people to, well, design the wands. There were some details in the books, like the skeletal nature of Voldemort's wand before he lifted the Elder Wand, but the movies brought that to life.

This article supports the proposition that JKR had a hand in designing the wands.

Rowling came up with very specific wands for the major characters and she worked with the filmmakers to design and craft wands that reflected their owner’s identity.

I think it's therefore pretty safe to say that JKR at least had an idea of what the wands looked like, even if she didn't necessarily spell it out in the books. And I think that idea is basically a conventional magic wand.

(Or even a musical wand, which is not a whole lot different!)

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It never really describes intricate details of the wands in the books.

The books describe length and what type of wood the wand is made out of (which I guess implies the color that the wand will be) as well as flexibility, but that's about it really. Also people polish their wands because we hear about wand polish and Harry tries to wipe the smudges off of his wand in Goblet of Fire when Olivander weighs the champions' wands.

Apart from that, I don't really know if they had any specific details or (for all intents and purposes) they were just polished shiny sticks.

(Also fun fact: Harry's wand is made out of holly wood and holly wood tends to be a lighter, almost white color wood, so Harry's wand should look more pale wand than it does in the movies.)

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Hagrid's wand is disguised as “a battered pink umbrella”. Philosopher's Stone ch. 4 gives that brief description, and together with ch. 5 the books makes it plain that that's where his wand is, though Hagrid is not allowed to admit it.

We don't find out much about the appearance of other wands from the scene in Stone ch. 5 when Harry visits Ollivanders' shop. I don't think even Harry gets to see a large variation of them: “A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window”, and there were “the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling”. The text doesn't describe the wands that Harry tries in that shop.

As for the wand that eventually chooses Harry, I don't believe we find out much about its appearance either. We know that it has “unusual combination – holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple” and is made from a single phoenix tail feather (Stone ch. 5, also Phoenix chapter 7) and that after it broke, “the two halves of holly [were] still, just, connected by the finest thread of phoenix feather”. Headmaster Dumbledore also reveals that it is his companion phoenix, Fawkes, that the feather comes from (Goblet ch. 36).

Of the appearance of the Elder wand the books tell us nothing other than that it's made of elder wood. That it bears a marking depicting the Hallows symbol is a mere fan-fiction invention.

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