‘Harry Potter’ Now on Legal UK Currency

I kid you not. We’re not talking Galleons and Knuts here but 50 pence coins — but still, is there anything that says ‘Shared Text’ more than having a character from a book on coinage within a country?

Here is the story as reported in an announcement from Bloomsbury, the publisher of the Hogwarts Saga in the UK and several other Commonwealth nations:

The Royal Mint launches a spellbinding coin collection ⚡

This week we wanted to share the exciting news that The Royal Mint have just launched an official 50p featuring Harry Potter, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The Royal Mint’s craftspeople have faithfully reproduced one of Jim Kay’s iconic illustration of Harry in colour for the first time on official UK coins. Many of the coins in the range also feature an enchanting ‘latent feature’ which rotates in the light to reveal a lightning bolt and the number ‘25’.

Jim Kay commented: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It is the same for most aspects of publishing – because you are on your own all of the time in a studio, none of it quite seems real until you see the book on a shelf in a shop. Then you think ‘oh yeah! I did that!’ This is completely new to me though, a coin!”

They include a link to the Royal Mint’s interview with Kay, ‘Behind the Harry Potter Designs with Jim Kay.’ Reading stories at the BBC and The Mail, you’ll learn that this coinage is not a one-and-done; there will be other Potter-themed coins featuring the Hogwarts Express train, Albus Dumbledore, and the School of Witchcraft and Wizardy’s castle. The late Queen Elizabeth II will be on the reverse side of this year’s coins and King Charles III on later issues.

In the larger scheme of things, a Harry Potter 50p coin is not earth-shaking news. Rowling tweeted today about protests outside the UN in support of the people’s protest against the Islamist regime, about a ‘transgender’ takeover of a bathroom in Mexico (and the misogynist violence in that country women suffer), an Iranian professor who has courageously defied the regime in Tehran, forfeiting her safety and almost as certainly her career. This coin that features Rowling’s Potter is, relatively speaking, small beer; it remains a tribute, however, to this storyteller’s artistry and its continuing hold on the 21st century reader.

Hat-tip to Professor Stauffer for the link!


Shared Text: ‘NYC Sort of Like Hogwarts’

Project Veritas suckered a staffer for New York City Mayor Eric Adams into saying out loud what people are only allowed to think. He agreed with the person he didn’t know was filming and recording his conversation that New York is a violent, dangerous place to live now — and that was more than okay.

How did he express this? With a Harry Potter reference, of course: “I’ve just always joked, New York is sort of like Hogwarts. Like, it’s a lot of fun, great opportunities, and people die.” 

He was fired for this comment and the many others he made. I’m guessing that his all but saying the mayor of New York was on the take and had been for some time was what got his ticket punched rather than the Hogwarts allusion. I bring it up just to make the point once again that no other work of literature, divine revelation, or comic book inspired film series is referenced as often as the Harry Potter novels is today because its status as the Shared Text of everyone living means name-dropping anything about the books will be understood.

For the New York Post’s take on this story, see City Hall staffer fired after slamming city’s migrant response, cops.’

Shared Text (Not Safe For Work)

Andrew Schulz clearly knows next to nothing about Harry Potter. Note that in the above routine that he mentions “Harry Potter the Musical” in reference to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which for all its glories (failings?), is not a musical.

Having said that, it’s interesting to observe that he does understand, as in “know for certain,” that his audience will get  a Harry Potter joke and especially enjoy an equal parts playful and tasteless spell in Latin. Because everybody knows Harry Potter.

Shared Text: Unvaccinated Pure Bloods

To read more about the phenomenon, apparently a year old now, of those who have successfully resisted the mRNA inoculations, the ‘Great Unvaxxed,’ that want to be known as “Pure Bloods,” read this Newsweek piece: Vaccine Skeptics Are Calling Themselves ‘Pure Bloods’ in Bizarre Harry Potter Reference. I believe this is known as a “own-goal” in soccer, which is to say, if you’re going to choose a Harry Potter reference as your hashtag identity, the one that is an anything but subtle pointer to eugenics and fascism is not your best bet.

I call this a ‘Shared Text’ item because the response to this nomenclature adoption has been almost universal scoffing, which is to say, everyone but the TikTok Pure Bloods seems to understand immediately the Hogwarts Saga reference. I wonder, though, if the failing of those who adopted the title to recognize how they were casting themselves as bad guys means that they certainly don’t have the Rowling novels’ nuances as a sure point of reference. [Read more…]

Shared Text: SNL Channels Dobby

Pete Davidson is a comedian who for the last eight years has been a member of the cast at NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He’s leaving the show at the end of this season, so, as SNL heads into summer re-runs, Davidson took the opportunity last Saturday to thank Lorne Michaels, the show’s producer, for giving him a chance back in the day and for sticking with him through thick and thin.

Before he got all sentimental and grateful, though, Davidson did his straight man routine with Colin Jost, one of the two faux-anchors on the show’s ‘Weekend Update’ segment. Jost asked him if it was true he was really leaving the cast. Davidson showed in his answer what a Potter-head he really is — and how confident he was that his audience would get the joke.

That is testimony to Harry Potter continuing to be this generation’s Shared Text. No explicit mention of Dobby, the Boy Who Lived, or Malfoy freeing his house-elf by mistake. It wasn’t necessary; “accidentally gifted me a sock so I’m free” instantly brought Dobby’s liberation to the mind of the audience.