Wand Mystery: Dumbledore’s (Old) New Wand
November 15, 2017, the official Fantastic Beasts Instagram account (@fantasticbeastsmovie) posts a #WizardingWednesdays photo of two wands. Both on what looks like blue velvet, the wand on the left is all too familiar. With its characteristic knobs and divots, along with a white band covered in symbols of lines, triangles, and circles, the Elder wand is instantly recognizable. Butto the right we see a new wand, a wand not seen before in any of the Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts movies. Onyx black, divided into raised segments, and topped with a cat’s eye stone above a gold band, it did not take long for fans to draw the conclusion that the most likely wider of this wand would be none other than Albus Dumbledore.
Dumbledore, of course, attained the Elder wand after defeating Gellert Grindelwald after their duel in 1945. As JK Rowling has confirmed after the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the 5-part series will end with us finally getting to witness that famous duel first mentioned all the way back in Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone. The Elder wand then passes to Dumbledore, but of course he had to have had a wand before the duel. We were now going to get to see what that wand looked like and how Dumbledore would use it in the events surrounding Grindelwald’s raise to and fall from power.
What fans couldn’t help pointing out, however, was that the design of this new Dumbledore wand was strikingly similar to that of the Elder wand. The new wand was divided into an equal number of segments, and between the segments were tiny divots similar to that on the rounded part of the Elder wand. Some fans Christened Dumbledore’s new wand the pseudo-Elder wand.
We saw the wand again in the first promotional image for Crimes of Grindelwald, with Dumbledore leaning in a blue (but actually grey) corduroy trench coat, holding his lit wand in his left hand. Grindelwald has the Elder wand, and wand collectors prepared themselves for when Noble Collection and other retailers would announce the pseudo-Elder would be available for the purchase for the holidays.
But lo! March 13, 2018, the Fantastic Beasts Instagram posts a new shiny promotional picture. In it, we see Newt in his new grey frock coat and holding his familiar battered case, while behind him Dumbledore looks over his shoulder. But what is that in Dumbledore’s hand? A different wand? A wand that seems to be in the shape of a root with a long, thin tapered point. No explanation was given for the appearance of the new wand. Would Dumbledore have two wands? Does he break one and has to get another one? Does he design his own wand after loosing the root-looking wand and models it after Grindelwald’s? Will Ollivander show up in these films and explain the mysteries of wand lore to us deeper still deeper? Does he fight Grindelwald once and loose, having his wand destroyed, only to go and make a new wand even more powerful than the Elder, and that’s how he defeats the “unbeatable wand” in 1945?
As fans got more promotional images and trailers for the new film, the root wand appeared to have replaced the pseudo-Elder wand completely. Maybe it would only appear at the very end of the film, and Dumbledore will use the root wand until he has to replace it. We see Dumbledore holding the root wand in a flashback to him teaching a young Newt the Bogart banishing charm, but not anywhere else in the trailers. The the poster of Dumbledore’s face holding the root wand close up for all to see. At an event in New York City all of the new wands from the film were on display for everyone to see with the root wand yet again making the only appearance. Where was the pseudo-Elder wand?
Then came the Empire Magazine cover. Yet again, Newt is front and center with Dumbledore right behind, holding… the root wand? Everything above his fingers appears to be the root wand, yet below, we see the hint of that cat’s eye stone, gold band, and black hilt. What was happening?? I think fans really began to catch on at this point: the root wand has been edited over the pseudo-Elder wand, which Jude Law was holding when this picture was taken. For some reason, the film makers have decided to replace the original design with the new twisted and swirled version.
This theory was finally confirmed during the Lumos Wizarding World Wands Event in London on October 18, 2018. FantasticBeastsMovies.com was able to ask Pierre Bohanna, the person who designed so many of the wands from the films, about this mystery. You can read their post for the full quote, but summarized it comes down to this: Jo saw the new wand on set and felt it was just too similar to the design of the Elder wand. Thereafter, the wand was changed to the root/swirl wand which remains the official design.
This explains the photoshop job done on Empire Magazine as well as all of the early promotional images featuring the old design. Jude Law held the pseudo-Elder wand for the majority of the filmmaking, then had to switch for the new design for reshoots. That means anything that isn’t a reshoot will have to have the original wand digitally edited out of the film and replaced with the new design. I guess in the end it saves time and money to get Jo’s approval on everything before hand, but then, I suppose, we would not have had this wonderful mystery to keep us entertained for almost a year.
Just because the original design of Dumbledore’s wand is no longer official, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a beautiful design, and it certainly did not stop wand makers around the world from trying their lathes at recreating it. I was lucky enough to win one of these wands made by the incredibly talented Brian Brown (check out his account @brownandlobban on Instagram and Etsy) through a contest by @theGregWhoLived(give him a follow as well his account is incredible!) I treasure this wand so much because it not only reminds me of the intrigue of following the development of this wand mystery, but also started a distance friendship between me and Brian which is very special to me. I know so little about wood work and am fascinated by the ability to see the desired finished product through the negative space of the wood being used. This wand will always hold a special place for me, as well as looking forward to getting the “official” wand to add to my collection.
Please comment below with your own experiences following the developments of this design change. Thanks for Rodney (@Kwickspellco) for sharing the FantasticBeastsMovies.com blog post with me!