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Simply put: In the Harry Potter Series, the titular hero is in possession of a "true" magical cloak of invisibility, one which isn't charmed and will wear out, but seems to make the wearers truly un-seeable and nearly undetectable. In the latter third of the series, this cloak in particular is implied to be one of the Deathly Hallows: 3 tokens bestowed by the entity of Death itself upon 3 powerful wizards, namely the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility.

While it's not impossible that the cloak was inherited by James from an ancestor, that's a big supposition.

Is there any canon information on how the cloak came into James' possession?

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    The "bestowed by the entity of Death itself " bit isn't necessarily literally true, see "Does personified Death really exist in Harry Potter?". – lfurini Mar 14 at 8:04
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    @ifurini agreed, and that just adds to the legend. I'm familiar with he theory that the cloak was made by a wizard seeking to master death (i.e., true immortality) from the airs of thestrals, but I've seen no evidence to support this in the books. – Russhiro Mar 14 at 18:39
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    “one which isn't charmed and will wear out” You probably mean “one which isn't charmed and won’t wear out”. – Brian Drake Mar 15 at 13:18
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    Isn't it heavily implied (or outright stated) in the books that Harry is a descendant of the Peverell family? – TylerH Mar 16 at 18:24
  • @TylerH This almost sounds like an answer; in fact, it is merely restarting information that is already in an answer! – Brian Drake Mar 18 at 11:48
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Look at this excerpt from a Pottermore article by JK Rowling (the full article can be found here):

The wizarding family of Potters descends from the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter’.

Linfred’s eldest son, Hardwin, married a beautiful young witch by the name of Iolanthe Peverell, who came from the village of Godric’s Hollow. She was the granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell. In the absence of male heirs, she, the eldest of her generation, had inherited her grandfather’s invisibility cloak. It was, Iolanthe explained to Hardwin, a tradition in her family that the possession of this cloak remained a secret, and her new husband respected her wishes. From this time on, the cloak was handed down to the eldest in each new generation.

The Potters continued to marry their neighbours, occasionally Muggles, and to live in the West of England, for several generations, each one adding to the family coffers by their hard work and, it must be said, by the quiet brand of ingenuity that had characterised their forebear, Linfred.

Henry Potter ... , who was a direct descendant of Hardwin and Iolanthe, ... served on the Wizengamot from 1913-1921.

Henry’s son was called Fleamont Potter. ... It was Fleamont who took the family gold and quadrupled it, by creating magical Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion (‘two drops tames even the most bothersome barnet’). He sold the company at a vast profit when he retired, but no amount of riches could compensate him or his wife Euphemia for their childlessness. They had quite given up hope of a son or daughter when, to their shock and surprise, Euphemia found that she was pregnant and their beloved boy, James, was born.

Fleamont and Euphemia lived long enough to see James marry a Muggle-born girl called Lily Evans, but not to meet their grandson, Harry. Dragon pox carried them off within days of each other, due to their advanced age, and James Potter then inherited Ignotus Peverell’s Invisibility Cloak.

From the above, it is quite clear how the Cloak came into James' possesion.

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    So it' confirmed, then; Harry Potter is the direct descendent of one of the Peverell brothers? Nice. – Russhiro Mar 14 at 18:43
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    @Russhiro no need for confirmation outside of the books. See MBEllis' answer. – Eric Duminil Mar 15 at 6:06
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    @Righter: I'm not sure I understand your point. Harry Potter books have more than a million words. It's perfectly possible to read the 7 books and not remember every sentence. As mentioned in the other answer, the fact that the Potters are direct descendants of Ignotus Peverell is directly confirmed in the books. That's not a "big supposition" anymore. Still, it's obviously perfectly fine to ask this question even after having read every book. – Eric Duminil Mar 15 at 6:32
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    @BrianDrake I consider anything that JK Rowling writes as canon, though others may not – Righter Mar 15 at 13:49
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    @Righter Even the "wizards used to poop their pants" stuff? – ceejayoz Mar 15 at 21:16
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In book 7 (Chapter 35), Dumbledore explains to Harry how the cloak got to him:

“The Cloak, as you know now, traveled down through the ages, father to son, mother to daughter, right down to Ignotus’s last living descendant, who was born, as Ignotus was, in the village of Godric’s Hollow.”

Dumbledore smiled at Harry.

“Me?”

"You. You have guessed. I know, why the Cloak was in my possession on the night your parents died. James had showed it to me just a few days previously."

So Ignotus, who lived in Godric's Hollow, just passed it down until it got to Harry.

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    Short, to the point, from the original books. Very nice. – Jontia Mar 16 at 19:36
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    What's the next line after Harry's question? It could result in a very different outcome if it's Dumbledore saying "no" for example. – TylerH Mar 18 at 13:15
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    @TylerH- If Dumbledore had said no I wouldn't have given this answer. You also have the book and chapter to look it up yourself. But it might clear it up a bit, so I'm editing it in. – MBEllis Mar 18 at 13:24
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The Deathly Hallows book explains that Harry inherited the cloak through his ancestor Ignotus Peverell

The theme in the story in the Beedle book was that the other two brothers asked for foolish gifts from death, and hastened their deaths. Then, Voldemort was obsessed with acquiring the Elder wand, making the same foolish error as Antioch Peverell, lacking the wisdom to understand the moral of the legend of the 3 Hallows. Only Harry has the wisdom and modesty (inherited from Ignotus) to understand the value of the cloak, and this is emphasized after the battle, when he rejects the Elder wand

and will wear out

I don't recall reading anything which says the cloak will wear out

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  • Hi Louis Thompson, welcome to the Science Fiction & Fantasy stackexchange! Do you think you could add any quotes to back up what you have said? (This could be a direct extract from the book or a page/chapter reference.) – Boolean Mar 14 at 20:32
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    Hi Louis Thompson, I think the "and will wear out" was a bit of complicated wording in the original post: I understood that as "true cloak which <isn't some simple spell that would wear out>" – Jim Klimov Mar 15 at 0:17
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    This answer was mentioned in a meta post. – Brian Drake Mar 15 at 14:34

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