I decided to do a little bit of research and go in-depth into currency in the wizarding world. As we all know, wizard money is made up of gold galleons, silver sickles, and bronze knuts.
In the first book, when Harry is getting money out of his vault for the first time, Hagrid tells him the exchange rates between them, which are:
17 sickles= 1 galleon
29 knuts= 1 sickle
(493 knuts= 1 galleon)
Nothing is ever said, however, about how much they are worth compared to Muggle Money. Most products in the Wizarding World can’t translate, but a few products in the books are also Muggle products, so I tried to use these to approximate the value of them compared to US currency.
- A LOT of Candy: 11 sickles and 7 knuts (SS: Journey from Platform 9 ¾)
- Ride on Knight Bus: 11 Sickles (PoA: The Kinight Bus)
- Hot chocolate: +2 sickles
- Water Bottle and toothbrush: +2 sickles
- S.P.E.W Membership (buys a badge): 2 sickles (GoF: The Unforgivable Curses)
- 3 Butterbeers: 6 Sickles (OofP: In The Hog’s Head)
- Advanced Potion Making: 9 galleons (HBP: Hermione’s Helping Hand)
So looking at these, I started experimenting with different values and came up with these as the approximate values for wizarding money:
Based on this, a Butterbeer from the Hog’s Head would be about $3 (as would hot chocolate on the Knight Bus), Harry bought about $18 of candy on the Hogwarts Express in his first year, and a high-level textbook costs about $225 (which Harry complained about how expensive it was).
Based on this model, I looked through and searched for things whose values stuck out to me, so here they are:
Wands were cheap:
At 7 galleons, Harry paid ~$175 for his wand. Considering the extraordinary power it gives wizards, this was lower than I expected, when things like Omnioculars, Brain Elixir, Metamorph Medals, and a potions book were more expensive…not to mention that Bagman was willing to give Fred and George 5 galleons for a fake one.
The extent of the Weasley’s poverty:
In Chamber of Secrets, the Weasleys completely emptied their vault which consisted of 1 galleon and a pile of sickles, which could be equated from $50 to $75, and they had to buy everyone books, plus robes, a wand and cauldron for Ginny, etc. It didn’t really hit me until now just how hard the 50 galleon fine for the Flying Ford Anglia hit the family. Also, it made it that more surprising to me that when they win the 700 galleon Daily Prophet Grand Prize, they spend the better part of $17,500 on a trip to Egypt (I suspect that a good chunk of it may have been spent getting out of debt, but they didn’t tell any of the children). Finally, it meant Fred and George’s 37 galleon bet with Bagman was over a thousand dollars on something of a longshot.
Harry was loaded, and generous about it:
At the World Cup, he spent $750 to buy him, Ron, and Hermione Omnioculars as Christmas presents (for about 10 years, mind). Not only that, but he gave Fred and George $25,000 of Triwizard Tournament winnings to start their joke shop because he didn’t need it.
Dobby makes a galleon/week, so about $25/week. This was all that he wanted, as Dobby was offered 10 times that by Dumbledore. He offered Dobby 10 galleons/week with weekends off. This equates to $250/week, which is pretty good because the House Elves have essentially no living expenses that we saw.
Rewards for Capture: The price on Harry’s head in DH was 10 times that of Sirius’s. The Ministry was willing the pay 2.5 million to capture Harry.
*The Cursed Necklace was the most expensive object mentioned in the Harry Potter series, at 1,500 galleons (>$35,000).
*Beetle Eyes are the least valuable object mentioned in series, valued at 5 knuts for scoop of them.
*The Daily Prophet was dirt cheap. In SS, Harry paid the owl 5 knuts for it (25 cents) and all throughout OofP, Hermione paid 1 knut each time she received the Prophet.
Here is a full list of the value of every item mentioned in the Harry Potter Series, with approximate values in US$:
- Prophet Delivery: 5 knuts (SS: Diagon Alley) = 25 cents
- Dragon Liver: 16 sickles/ounce (SS: Diagon Alley) = $24
- Unicorn Horn: 21 galleons (SS: Diagon Alley) = $525
- Black Beetle Eyes: 5 knuts/scoop (SS: Diagon Alley) = 25 cents
- Wand: 7 galleons (SS: Diagon Alley) = $175
- A LOT of Candy: 11 sickles and 7 knuts (SS: Journey from Platform 9 3/4) = $18
- Weasley Gringotts Vault: 1 Galleon, small pile of sickles (CoS: At Florish and Blotts) = $40
- Mr. Weasley’s fine for the flying car: 50 galleons (CoS: Polyjuice Potion) = $1250
- Daily Prophet Grand Prize: 700 galleons (PoA: Owl Post) = $17,500
- Percy’s bet with Penelope on Quidditch: 10 galleons (PoA: Gryffindor vs Ravenclaw) = $250
- Ride on Knight Bus: 11 Sickles (PoA: The Knight Bus) = $16.50
- Hot chocolate: +2 sickles = $3
- Water Bottle and toothbrush: +2 sickles = $3
- Mr. Weasley’s bet on the World Cup: 1 Galleon (GoF: Bagman and Crouch) = $25
- Fred and George’s bet on the World Cup: 37 galleons, 15 sickles, 3 knuts (GoF: Bagman and Crouch) = $1410
- Bagman’s value of Fred and George’s fake wand: 5 galleons (GoF: Bagman and Crouch) = $125
- Omnioculars: 10 galleons (GoF: Bagman and Crouch) = $250
- Triwizard Tournament Prize: 1,000 galleons (GoF: The Triwizard Tournament) = $25,000
- S.P.E.W Membership: 2 sickles (GoF: The Unforgivable Curses) = $3
- Canary Creams: 7 sickles (GoF: House Elf Liberation Front) = $10.50
- Dobby’s Hogwarts Salary: 1 Galleon /week (GoF: House Elf Liberation Front) = $25
- What Dumbledore offered: 10 Galleons/Week = $250
- Reward for catching Sirius Black: 10,000 Galleons (OofP: The Order of the Phoenix) = $250,000
- 3 Butterbeers: 6 Sickles (OofP: In The Hog’s Head) = $9
- Headless Hats: 2 Galleons (OotP: Occlumency) = $50
- Pint of Baruffio’s Brain Elixir: 12 Galleons (OotP: OWL’s) = $300
- Metamorph Medals: 10 Galleons: (HBP: Horace Slughorn) = $250
- Handful of WWW products: 3 galleons, 9 sickles (HBP: Draco’s Detour) = $88.50
- Cursed Necklace in Borgin & Burkes: 1,500 galleons (HBP: Draco’s Detour) = $37,500
- Skull in Borgin & Burkes: 16 galleons (HBP: Draco’s Detour) = $400
- Advanced Potion Making: 9 galleons (HBP: Hermione’s Helping Hand) = $225
- Merope selling Slytherin’s Lockett: 10 galleons (HBP: The Secret Riddle) = $250
- Apparation Lessons: 12 galleons (HBP: A Very Sluggish Memory) = $300
- Goblin-made Armour: 500 galleons (HBP: Lord Voldemort’s Request) = $12,500
- Acromantula Venom: 100 galleons/pint (HBP: After the Burial) = $2500
- Unicorn Hair: 10 galleons/hair (HBP: After the Burial) = $250
- Price on Harry’s head: 100,000 galleons (DH: Malfoy Manor) = $2,500,000
- Price for catching a mudblood: 5 galleons (DH: Malfoy Manor) = $125
This essay was originally posted here. Reposted with permission
Although Rowling did state that a Galleon was worth about five pounds (and that's the value stated in the Lexicon's entry, since it's canon), that value doesn't always seem to make sense. Lacy's analysis starts from the logical value of things -- $3.00 for a butterbeer, for example -- and works out the value of the coins from there. It's an interesting way of looking at it. I've done a little editing to add the US$ values of the items on the final list -- SVA