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For reference, here are two questions that deal with wizarding population: What is the total wizarding population during the events of the Harry Potter series and How many people worked for the Ministry of Magic?

The British Wizarding population seems rather small. Apparently the entire student body of Hogwarts is able to fit into the Hogwarts Express (According to Pottermore -- 1, 2 -- the Hogwarts Express is the only way to Hogwarts; it's not like some students ride the train and some students are dropped off by their parents for the school term.).

How many wands would Ollivander have to keep on hand at any given time? We know Harry tried out a lot of wands before his wand finally chose him. Maybe some kids need five tries; maybe some get the right wand on the first try. And there are broken and lost wands that need replacing to take into consideration.

I don't consider the movies canon, but as they're JKR approved, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone shows Ollivander has a pretty significant number of wands in stock for what is a smaller Wizarding population (see pics). Is there a canonical way to estimate how many wands Ollivander would need to keep in stock?

I'm looking for an answer grounded in canon, meaning the novels, interviews with J.K. Rowling, or information from Pottermore or the like. Barring that, a speculative answer in the spirit of canon is absolutely welcome, including alternative sources of information. ETA 12.21.14

Ollivanders 01

Ollivanders 02

Ollivanders 03

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    @NominSim - the reason Wiki is not acceptable to Slytherincess is because a large portion of HP information in it is either extremely poorly - or more likely not at all - cited. E.g. it says "this is XYZ" or "this is ABC in Harry Potter and One More Volume You Will Spend Money On" - without supporting quotes. Sometimes said information is between inaccurate and outright bad, and VERY frequently makes zero distinctions between book and movie canon, or canon and speculation. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 6 '12 at 3:05
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    +1 from me, but it occurs to me that his inventory may not relate to the population; if he's a craftsman, AND if wands don't have a significantly limited life expectancy when in storage, then I would think he would spend a lot of time just making them and honing his craft. Hence all of the different styles / details that people try when getting one. So it worries me that the question may be indeterminate if we base it on his inventory. How many masterpieces does Picasso need? – K-H-W Oct 6 '12 at 3:12
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    @NominSim - Also, you're very wrong about Wiki. Wiki is considered an acceptable reference for the site in general, NOT a universal word of god applicable to any and every question. If the source of the Wiki info is (as it VERY frequently happens) "this is what I saw in a frame in the movie" - without actual cite - and the question is "does the info in the frame in the movie make sense in the context of the universe", using a Wiki answer misses the entire point of the question. THAT is what Slytherincess meant by her shorthand of "No Wiki answers". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 6 '12 at 3:29
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    @NominSim - so a good answer would have a bracket and likely a formula with some assumptions going into the formula being explained. Given the possible combinations of wood and core (see Pottermore), there aren't all THAT many wands he can make "per wizard" as far as "wand chooses the wizard". There is a very well defined cap based on canon. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 6 '12 at 3:53
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    In all fairness, Hogwarts Express seems like a poor argument. It could very well be like Weasley's tent at Quidditch World Cup, Bigger on The Inside and able to fit tons of pupils. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 3 '14 at 23:16
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Ollivander is the primary wand maker for the United Kingdom. JK Rowling is on record as saying there are 1,000 students at Hogwarts at any given time. If you believe there are roughly 36 new students per house per year that means he needs to supply around 144 wands per year to new students. The cited article says there are likely significantly less students per year, and Rowling has admitted to being poor at math, but she is on the record...

Now some poorer families don't necessarily buy a new wand right away (such as Ron Weasley), but they probably buy a new one at some point. And wands can be damaged and destroyed (such as Harry's), so that probably evens out.

The other consideration is that the "wand chooses the wizard." Other than when specifically directed to make a wand for a person (such as the replacement wand for Peter Petigrew) he needs to manufacture lots of wands hoping that one of them will choose each prospective customer.

Now he probably spends most of the year constructing wands, builds up a huge inventory before the start of a new school year, and subsequently has it depleted.

So if you count the incoming students for Hogwarts and assume some kind of 0.5% wand loss / replacement for the UK wizard population at large (3000) you'd be looking at Ollivander needing 160 odd wands in stock for the start of term each year.

  • I wonder how much you need to inflate your estimate as far as inventory management of a small store like this. Anyone with management experience should weigh in. +1 – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 6 '12 at 3:11
  • Right, I've seen the 1000 quote many times. I agree with you that she's on the record with that number, so I'm just going to muse a bit. I think that number could be accurate-ish. It would be less than 200 students per year, which would make sense. JKR also once said that there were 40 kids in Harry's year; if that were representative of each year, then there would only be 280 students total, which defies logic. IMO anyway. Thanks for the nice answer! :) – Slytherincess Oct 6 '12 at 3:13
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    You are also assuming no adults ever need replacement wands - I would posit that this is somewhat unrealistic, but don't have canon info for or against – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 6 '12 at 3:35
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    @DVK that was my extra 0.5% (of the wizard population of roughly 3000 people in the UK). – Jack B Nimble Oct 6 '12 at 3:38
  • Any stats about how many extras were used in the Hogwarts dinner scenes in the movies? It might not perfectly reflect the book, but it could provide a good benchmark. – Nerrolken Dec 3 '14 at 17:24
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While I was looking for an answer to Pureferret's question Did Ollivander Know About Harry Potter Before He Was the Boy Who Lived?, I found the answer to my own question, this one.

Harry felt strangely as though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a lot of new questions which had just occurred to him and looked instead at the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling. For some reason, the back of his neck prickled. The very dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.

Philosopher's Stone - page 63 - Bloomsbury - chapter 5, Diagon Alley

I completely missed this initially.

Nevertheless, a canon-based answer.

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    Ah, but this answers how many wands Ollivander has, not how many he needs. :) – Martha Nov 19 '12 at 18:48
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    @Martha -- Haha, you busted me, oh semantic one! You're right, technically. I actually was going to title the question "How Many Wands Does Ollivander Need To Keep On Hand" and it looks like it might have been a good idea to have done that. I was just trying to keep the title succinct. But I definitely get what you mean. Let me put it this way: As the person who asked the question, I'm satisfied with the answer I found in Philosopher's Stone. ;) – Slytherincess Nov 22 '12 at 4:46
  • @Slytherincess - If you were satisfied with this answer, why accept a different one? – ibid Apr 13 '16 at 22:24
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According to the set designer at the WB Studios in London, 17,000 boxes were hand crafted for the shop in the original movie.

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    Interesting, but the asker specifically asks for a canonical estimate and states that she doesn't consider the movies canon. – Null Dec 3 '14 at 17:00
  • @Null - regardless, the movies are considered semi-canon by most Potter fans, unless contradicted by a higher source. – Valorum Dec 3 '14 at 17:08
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    @Null - I still think it's a good answer. Oh and the OP has used images from the films in her question so it seems like fair game to me. – Valorum Dec 3 '14 at 17:23
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    @Richard Well, I don't think it's a good answer since it ignores the instructions of the question entirely. Interesting, but not particularly useful. I imagine the images from the film were added only because the books don't have many (any?) images. – Null Dec 3 '14 at 17:31
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    @Richard I'm not advocating for the deletion of the answer, nor did I downvote it. I just think it's not particularly useful given the question's instructions and gave my upvotes to the other answers. – Null Dec 3 '14 at 18:12
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It is clear from the books that the Olivander family has been in business for a very long time (since 360 BC is quoted) so it is ot unreasonable that they will have a lot of stock.

Similarly as Olivander says in the first book 'the wand chooses the wizard' to it is reasonable to assume that a premium want shop would want a lot of excess stock to be able to offer the best possible choice. So even if he only sells a few hundred per year he might well have 10, 20 or 100 times that number on the shelves.

As well as the simple pragmatic demands of stock control Olivander is a wand 'maker' not just a seller, retailer or importer so it may well be that he sees himself as an artist and is driven to make the best wand he can from the materials which become available. Clearly wand materials like phoenix feathers (Fawkes only ever gave two) dragon heartstrings etc are hard to come by and so it's not at all hard o imagine that Mr Olivander sees each wand as an individual work of art and as such he may not be at all bothered whether he sells any particular wand in his own lifetime.

With the above in mind it may be more significant to ask about how many wand he could make per year. After all just 100 per year is still 3.65 per day with no days off which is pretty fast for an heirloom object considering he also has to look after the shop and lets say that sourcing the materials takes a bit of effort as well.

There is also a line:

Arthur Weasley: "Shop's empty. No sign of a struggle. No one knows whether he left voluntarily or was kidnapped." Ginny Weasley: "But what'll people do for wands?" Remus Lupin: "They'll make do with other makers. But Ollivander was the best, and if the other side have got him it's not so good for us."

This implies that he is not the sole supplier in Britain but certainly regarded as the best.

To me this suggests that Olivander's stock in his shop represents a lifetime's work plus perhaps that of his ancestors as well.

Also perhaps some wizard make do with (or prefer) other domestic or imported wands. SO he may not be supplying the entire Hogwarts intake every year.

If is also not unreasonable to assume that at least some wands are inherited and there seem to be no cases in the canon where wizards routinely own more than one wand (with a few exceptions where wands are temporarily taken from their owners as in the assault on Gringots).

It seems pretty clear that Olivander does make wands and that he is an expert on the subject. what is less clear is whether he tops up his stock with wands from other makers...for example is there an Olivenders 'extra value brand' imported from China ?

We do know of Gregorovitch as one other wand maker who supplies at least one Durmstrang student (Viktor Krum) and we might guess that he is the Bulgarian or Eastern European equivalent of Olvander, although it is never spelled out where, for example Beauxbatons students prefer to buy their wands. It may be that every country in europe has their own wand maker(s) or there may just be two or three centres of wand making.

  • Actually 100 per year is 1 every 3.65 days. – immibis Sep 27 '18 at 3:18

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