Like no other young adult book, “Harry Potter” entered our universe like a tornado. It’s been barely 20 years since the first HP book penned by J. K. Rowling has been published, and barely 10 years since the last novel of the fantasy series brought the destiny of loved characters to a stable end. That, of course if you believe things can be stable or if you think time is linear. Maybe the best of “Harry Potter”, after we’ve read the books, played the games, read the play, watched the movies, or bought Harry Potter memorabilia is only yet to start.
The universe conceived by J.K. Rowling is a record-breaker in terms of finance (she is the only known book author who is a billionaire) and popularity (450mil copies of the book were sold worldwide in 67 languages in the span of 10 years). However, it was a late bloomer when it came to stamps. Of course, because everything that comes on stamps has an aura of official recognition. But even here it is a record-breaker. Hold on tight, and you’ll see why.
The overall main proponent of Harry Potter stamps is of course Great Britain. It did not only produce the largest number of stamps inspired by the universe of Harry Potter, but it has also innovated here and there with stamp minting technologies.
Pictured above the 2007 series of stamps issued on the 10th anniversary of the first-ever Harry Potter book. Left to right: “The Philosopher’s Stone” (1997); “The Chamber of Secrets” (1998); “The Prisoner of Azkaban” (1999); “The Goblet of Fire” (2000); “The Order of the Phoenix” (2003); “The Half-Blood Prince” (2005); “The Deathly Hallows” (2007). It is also the first time when a cover of a book was featured on a stamp before it was even released! The series set out as an anniversary of the first book, but in fact, it includes the seventh book as well. The series of stamps was issued on Jul-17, 2007 – while the book itself was to released a couple of days later, on Jul-21, 2007. What a marketing feat!
The 2007 series was accompanied by a sheet showing the coat of arms of the four Hogwarts houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) and of Hogwarts itself.
And in order not to leave things just as they are, this sheet was accompanied by yet another great philatelic product.
Unlike the stamps from the sheet, the stamps from the larger sheet are self-adhesive. Each of them is provided with one of the 5 spells as vignette. You can see here: Reparo (restoration spell); Serpensortia (snake summoning spell); Evanesco (disappearance); Wingardium leviosa (levitation of objects); Alohomora (locking and unlocking of doors). The vignettes are heat-sensitive, so in case you forget the meaning of the spell, you just need to heat them with the tip of your fingers and the meaning of the spell is revealed.
In 2011, Royal Mail returned to the task of providing Harry Potter entertainment on stamps, this time in a series entitled “Magical Realms“.
Four two-stamp setenant strips were included, showing characters from C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia“, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter“, characters from the Arthurian legends and from Terry Prachett’s “Discworld” universe.
Next stop – Belgium! We talked a little about Belgian duostamps in our article devoted to Tintin. The surprising Belgian Post issued this fine strip of 5 Harry Potter duostamps in 2007.
Isle of Man
Isle of Man issued Harry Potter inspired stamps on two occasions.
The set pictured above was issued in 2004.
While the set pictured above was issued in 2005.
The Netherlands made a surprise to Harry Potter fans and stamp collectors in December 2005 – when their personalized December stamps were dedicated to the rising fame of Harry Potter.
Pictured above, the sheet of stamps issued by the Dutch post.
France issued Harry Potter stamps in 2007, for their “Fête du timbre“.
Pictured above the single stamp, and the sheet that accompanied the stamp.
And pictured above the front and back of the stamp booklet that accompanied the main issue, still issued in 2007.
Surprisingly (or not surprisingly at all?) another country that issued Harry Potter stamps is Albania. A four-stamp set was issued in 2008.
The surprising fact about these stamps is not their origin, or their design – but the fact that these stamps were issued in a total of 5200 copies – that makes 1300 of each stamp. Already a rarity!
The United States of America
The last stop of today’s journey is the USA! After the record break of having a book cover on a stamp before it was even released in the UK, here is the next one: actors from the cast of Harry Potter movies were the first living individuals to make it on US stamps. USPS has a long tradition of putting only deceased personalities on stamps. It seemed that this unbreakable and unwritten rule was finally bent in 2013, when the main cast of Harry Potter movies made it on stamps. And not isolatedly – on as much as 20 self-adhesive forever stamps in a fine-looking square booklet.
Pictured above the cover of the 2013 Harry Potter stamp booklet.
Pictured above, the contents of the booklet. Each page represents 4 of the 20 stamps and a central seal that can be used for decoration of your letters.
Stamps featured in post: 68; Period: contemporary (2004-2013); Pricing: low and moderate; Availability: generally available, with the exception of the full UK heat-sensitive sheet or the Albanian stamps due to their limited printrun.