Founder's Journal     Marjorie's Notes and Ponderings

This is an odd little collection of site and collecting news, fraud warnings, and my journal, of sorts. For the most part, I won't be repeating the general news that other HP sites post.  This news will be more specific to our group and the work we do.  To return to our home page, use your browser's "back" button, or click on our logo above.

 

October 29, 2007 J.K. Rowling in New York City

Finally!  Here is the report on my visit to New York City to see J.K. Rowling read from Deathly Hallows and get a book signed.  Thanks so much for being patient.  I'm sorry this isn't posted on the forum, but it is broken (technical computer term) and will take a while to sort out.  If you want to comment or ask questions, contact me directly at admin@jkrs-army.com .  On with the story...

I was very lucky to know someone who won the Scholastic contest and be able to attend the New York event as her guest.  So, a big thanks to Sue!

We traveled by train from BWI airport in Baltimore to Penn Station in New York City.  It was the first time I've used a train to travel and it was pretty relaxing.  Penn Station was really wild.  It was like being in an underground airport. 

We took a cab to our hotel and stopped at Carnegie Hall to pick up our tickets.  Our seats were about 20 rows back.

Since we got in one day early, we went to "The Lion King" Thursday night.  If you ever have the opportunity to see that one, I highly recommend it.  It's brilliantly staged and visually stunning.  The performers are very talented, and the music is outstanding.

The next evening, we went to Carnegie Hall.  We waited with a very large crowd of well-behaved fans for the gates to open.  Once we made it to our seats, I had a chance to look around at the architecture of the Hall and it was very lovely.  The hall itself is quite small and Scholastic had to use all the balconies to fit the 2000 winners and some press.

Jo Rowling read from the Deathly Hallows.  She chose a chapter she had not read in public before and which was one of her favorites.  It was the chapter where Ron returns to Harry and Hermione in the woods.  She did a wonderful job with Hermione's part, and had everyone laughing.  After the reading, she answered questions which were pre-selected from those the audience sent in.  (Including the now-infamous question about Dumbledore.)  Following are the questions and answers as I copied them down for you guys.  The wording isn't 100% direct quotes, but it's pretty darn close.

Q- What question should someone have asked?

A- What Dumbledore's wand was made of.  (She went on to explain that she was really afraid that question would come, because people asked about al the other wands.  If she had answered "Elder", if would have given the plot away too quickly in book 7.

Q- Did Neville ever find love?

A- Of course.  I love Neville. (Neville married the landlady who eventually replaces Madam Rosemerta - Hanna Abbott!)

Q- How did you decide that Molly Weasley would be the one to finish off Bellatrix Lastrange?

A- I always wanted it to be Molly Weasley... because a woman has dedicated herself to her family doesn't mean she doesn't have other talents. (She also liked that Bellatrix's evil obsession with Voldemort was matched with maternal love.)

Q- How different would the last 3 books be if you had killed Arthur Weasley as planned in Order of the Phoenix?

A- It would have removed the Weasleys as Harry's refuge.  Ron's humor comes from his insensitivity and immaturity.  He is the last of the three main characters to mature.  Ron would have had to mature quicker and that part of his humor would have been lost.

Q- Why did Remus Lupin and Tonks have to die?

A- I wanted to bring the story full circle (Starting with orphan Harry and ending with orphan Teddy.   She said that she didn't want to kill them, she loved them - especially Lupin.)

Q- What "inappropriate charms" did Albafore use on his goats?

A- How old are you?

Q- Eight.

A- That can be looked at through a couple of lenses.  For you, we'll say the charms were to make the goat easy to clean and to make his horns curly.

Q- Did Dumbledore ever fall in love with someone?

A- I always saw Dumbledore as gay.  (She went on to explain that Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, making what happened between the two very tragic.)

Q- (How could Ron know Parseltongue?)

A- Parseltongue is not a language you can learn; it is passed down through the Slytherin line.  (Ron just remembered hearing Harry say "open" and imitated the sound.

Q- What did Dumbledore write in the letter to the Dursleys when he dropped Harry off?

A- Dumbledore very kindly explained why (they needed to keep Harry.  He was trying to reach the tiny part of Petunia which had wanted to come to Hogwarts with Lily.)  Dumbledore appealed to that and her sense of fair play to Lily.

Q- Why wasn't Harry's horcrux destroyed when the basilisk's fang wounded his arm?

A- A horcrux has to be completely destroyed in order for that piece of soul to be destroyed.  Fawkes saved Harry and kept that form happening.  (That's why Fawkes could not be around for the 7th book.)

Q- Why couldn't Harry talk to Dumbledore's portrait about the Hallows instead of having to follow the clues?

A- For three reasons:  Harry needed time to follow the clues so that he wouldn't act too quickly and be tempted by them; (she) had to navigate the rules she had already established for portraits; and It would have been too easy.

Q- Did the Nazis serve as the model for Deatheaters?

A- Not consciously. There are parallels.  People like to perceive themselves as superior.  (She went on to say that she hopes the Harry Potter books teach tolerance and the desirability of questioning authority.

Q- What did it feel like completing book 1 versus book 7?

A- It was strangely similar.  It took me seven years to complete book 1 and seventeen years to complete all seven books. (She also said it took her weeks to get through a bereavement process once book 7 was complete.)

The following are from random questions taken at the end of the Q&A-

Q- Harry saves Draco Malfoy several times during book 7.  Does Malfoy owe a life debt to Harry?

A- (When she wrote of Pettigrews indebtedness to Harry, she did not mean to imply a magical bond.  Dumbledore guessed that Pettigrew would act as he did in the end; that he would have an impulse of mercy.  Although Malfoy owes no magical debt, he is embarrassed.  THus the sidewise glance as they sent their children off to Hogwarts.

Q- What were Lily's, James', and Sirius' careers and why?

A- Remus was unemployable and fell on very hard times.  The other three were full time members of the Order.  James had gold and supported Sirius and himself.

Q- Did Hagrid ever get married?

A- Sadly, No.  Lady giants were out of the question.  Madam Maxime thought Hadrid was cute, but she was more sophisticated than he.

Q- Following his death, was Severus Snape's portrait ever hung in the Headmaster's office?

A- Yes.  Harry would have insisted on it. It hangs right next to Dumbledore's portrait.

Q- Does Harry ever go to the castle to speak to Snape's portrait?

A- I'm not sure he would have done.  Even though Snape loved deeply and was very brave, he really wasn't a good person.

After the question and answer period, we filed by her to get our books signed.  The line moved very quickly and there really was no time to talk.  I did identify myself and leave a gift bag with her.  The card was from JKR's Army and included the messages submitted to me by a few members.  The gift bag held a few small items, including chocolate and a toy for her new dog.

In all, it was a wonderful trip that I will remember for a very long time.  I hope you enjoyed hearing about it.

 

May 29, 2007 New Count on the Philosopher's Stone

After a bit of research with another member, I have revised the numbers listed for the first printing of the Philosopher's Stone.  You can read about it here.

 

April 26, 2007 Whoops!  Even I Make Mistakes

About a year and a half ago, I purchased a really nice postcard signed by Daniel Radcliffe for charity in 2002.  The signature was a bit neat for Daniel.  (My first rule, as most of you may know by now, is to look for a bit of a messy signature fro him.)  However, the autograph dealer I bought the card from has a great reputation and combats forgery with an anti-forgery web site.  Additionally, all the main points of his 2002 signature were there.  the correct "D", approach to all the letters, and downhill drop.  So, I thought perhaps the signature was neat because he took his time to sign nicely for this charity.  However, lately I have seen other items signed very similarly, including a Prisoner of Azkaban post card.  There is no way that Daniel signed the same in 2003 as he did in 2001.  Therefore, I became concerned and pulled my postcard off the market.  I am working with the seller to obtain a refund.  Meanwhile, it would be best if you were to stay well clear of this signature:

UPDATE:  The seller has cordially refunded my money.  One advantage of purchasing from a reputable seller is that they conduct business with class and want to do the right thing.

 

April 10, 2007 New ISBN Reference Material Available in The Library

Member Joan has compiled a list of ISBN numbers for the UK Harry Potter books.  The ISBN is a unique number found on every book.  By checking Joan's list and contacting a prospective seller, you can make sure that you are buying the book you actually want, instead of being a victim of a misleading listing.  Her research is posted in The Library, and can be found here.

 

April 3, 2007 Great New Collectibles Available from Member Kathy Wells

Remember the great photos Kathy supplied of the NECA Toy Fair?  Well, she is currently in receipt of SOME of the items she ordered at the show.  Kathy always prices her items very competitively, so if any of those great items look like they want a home on YOUR shelf, why not contact her through her online shop, http://www.christmas-year-round.com/page/page/3379765.htm

Update:  I received my Harry figure from Kathy yesterday and it is REALLY cool! (Marjorie)

 

March 28, 2007 Signed Daniel Radcliffe Items from Equus

If you are interested in obtaining an authentic Daniel Radcliffe autograph for a reasonable price, the time has never been better.  Dan has been signing after performances of Equus, so there are more of his signatures available than I have ever seen at one time on eBay.  The average selling price this week seems to be between $100 and $200. 

Almost all of these signatures are on programs, flyers, or photos from the play, so I don't know if they will hold value as well as signed items from the classic movie series do.  But, if you are a fan of Dan's, a signed item from his first play is a great piece to have in your collection.

Some unscrupulous sellers are trying to cash in, so you have to be careful when purchasing.  I've included a few photos below to help you pick a good signature.  Remember than Dan's signature is a bit messy.  The rules which I discuss in the Member's Only section of the forum apply to everything Dan signs, even if he is in a hurry.  The signature may be messier than usual, but all the letters have the same characteristics they have when he has more time to sign (such as on trading cards).  Oh, by the way, most of the good signatures only appear on www.ebay.co.uk so that is definitely the site to use rather than ebay.com.  Pay attention now...

 

 

 

CONSISTENT WITH DAN'S SIGNATURE...

               

 

 

 

I WOULD NOT BUY THESE...

           

 

 

March 16, 2007 Amazon.com Products Added to Site

I have added select Amazon.com products to the bottom of our front page in an effort to help pay for our domain name and promotional products such as book markers.  Please take a look and remember to shop there if you can.  It will help us spread the word!

I Support J.K. Rowling Campaign a HUGE Success!  THANK YOU!

Our petition has been online for about a week now and we have over 12,000 signatures!  Thanks to everyone who signed.  Don't give up just yet - spread the word!  We'd love to have 15,000 signatures on it before we ship it off to eBay.

 

March 7, 2007 I Support J.K. Rowling Campaign to Launch Soon

Who better than JKR's Army to support J.K. Rowling in her work to clean up eBay?  And that is just what we will be doing in the upcoming weeks.  Look for a petition campaign to be launched from this site within a few days to a week.  As usual, we have awesome support from MuggleNet.  We will also be looking for support from other Harry Potter sites.  More news coming over the next few days...

 

February 27, 2007 J.K. Rowling Sues eBay

By now, most of you know that J.K. Rowling has sued eBay India for copyright infringement.  This issue revolves around the seller's reluctance to police the sale of pirated Harry Potter e-books on their web site.

According to the stories I've read, Indian law is worded such that eBay is a little more vulnerable while operating there.  If they are found guilty in this suit, it will be the first time they have been successfully held accountable for what is posted for sale.  It could open the door for holding them accountable for other items, such as forged signatures.

If you support the actions taken by JKR and her lawyers, please let your favorite web sites and eBay know.  eBay's contact information can be found here.

 

February 21, 2007 Completed Members-Only Area

I finished up a bit of retooling on the site tonight, fixing a few errors I picked up when I looked at the site from a PC other than the one I am building this on.  I also completed posting our members-only information.  It is housed on the forum for now.  I may be able to figure something a better out, but for now at least this makes the information available.

I am going to ask my brother to design a banner for the site, which should alleviate some of the graphics problems which are occurring at the top pf some pages.  Another member, Rocco, will be building an online O.W.L. test for fun.  I will be putting questions together, so if you have any good ones, send them to me at admin@jkrs-army.com.  I need to figure out how and where to place the link on MuggleNet.  Once that's done, I can run a few promotions/giveaways to get new visitors to our site.

 

February 19, 2007

 

Web Site Launch and NECA Toy Fair Photos

Today marks the first day the new web site is online.  I am very excited to have been able to learn all this new stuff and build a web site which is more suited to our needs a group.  In time, I think this site will draw a nice, broad audience of collectors.  I have a few things to finish up, but need a little break to take care of things like paying bills!  We should be pretty much finished up in about 4 weeks.  We'll have links from MuggleNet, HP4U, and Voldemort's Vault initially.  I'll be contacting other web masters this spring to see if we can spread the word.

This evening member Kathy Wells sent a really nice report with lots of good photos covering the NECA Toy Fair in New York City.  Read her report and look at all the VERY cool new toys here.

 

February 11, 2007 Focusing Your Collection (and Other Bits of Wisdom)

Since most of us don't have unlimited funds, we generally have to pick and choose the items we will collect.  If you can figure out what you really enjoy collecting, you will be able to focus your collection to include mostly these types of items and maximize the enjoyment you get from your collecting dollars.

In my case, I am drawn by Harry's history.  I love it.  I'm not talking about the history of how James met Lily.  I'm talking about the history of the Harry Potter phenomenon.  It just fascinates me that this really clever woman named J.K. Rowling could come up with a such a wonderful story and capture the hearts of so many people for so many years.  So, I like to collect things which capture a piece of Harry's history.

My favorite books have been those whose story I know - the Goblet of Fire signed for a member of the train crew from the Hogwart's Express Book Tour... the Half-Blood Prince signed on Launch weekend... the Order of the Phoenix signed at a London airport after JKR's appearance at Royal Albert Hall.

One of my favorites from my current collection is that Goblet of Fire which belonged to a member of  the "Hogwart's Express" train crew.  It is a treasure.  It's former owner likes to take photos and the book came with a full set from the train trip, including one of Ms. Rowling signing that very book.

In the same section of my bookcase sits another signed Goblet. This one signed for a woman who waited out in the rain and darkness on that same tour to get a signature for her son.  It came with a great letter detailing her experience.  The inscription in this book is priceless, "To Josh - I hope you like this. Don't drop it on your foot, now! J.K. Rowling".  It refers to the fact that Goblet was the first really long Harry Potter book. I think it's extra funny because critics felt children would not read such a large book.  We all know better now, don't we?  Again. this is a really nice piece of Harry's history.

Moving on through the bookcase, there is a first printing of the Philosopher's Stone that I actually managed to afford.  It is an ex-library copy.  These books, in mint condition, bring $25,000 and up.  This one came from a library, is a bit tatty, and cost under $3,000.  Still, I truly prefer owning the book I have.  There were only 300 hardbacks issued and they went almost exclusively to libraries.  Thousands of children read them and LOVED them, and Harry Potter was born.  This book has the library stamp and a pocket which contained the card.  It has been stamped "Removed" from when it was retired from the library and it has a little "25P" written in ink, where the book was priced at 25 pence in the library sale.  That buyer, in turn, sold it to me for a very nice profit.  Once again, the book represents a piece of Harry's history. For me, it doesn't get any better than that.

Finally, moving on once again in the bookcase, there is my most recent acquisition:  the handbag that J.K. Rowling carried to the premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in London (pictured below).  (Should I have been able to afford this?  Absolutely not.  The story of how I came to own it is a story for another day, though.)  This is the handbag that went to the first HP movie.  This is the handbag that J.K. Rowling held onto while she waited to see what Warner Brothers had done with her wonderful book and if the movie would be well-received.  It came with wonderful documentation and I have been able to print out lots of supporting stories to keep with it.  For me, this is the best-ever collectible because it has such a great piece of history.  The fact that the first movie is what got me clued in to Harry, is icing on the cake.

I guess there are a few points to my prattling this evening.  First, I would encourage each of you to identify what drives you to collect what you collect.  If you can successfully do so, you should be able to focus on collecting items which provide you the maximum amount of pleasure for your money.

Another point that kind of dawned on me as I wrote this are that you should enjoy whatever you collect.  We collect for fun, right?  We all work hard for our money and it should bring us pleasure when we spend it.

Finally, I did notice one thing all my favorite items have in common - documentation (or provenance).  One of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give you is that documentation is very important - especially if you may want to resell the item in the future.  Not only do those odd bits of paper relate Harry's history to your collectibles, but they also prove that your treasures really are authentic.  If the seller of a signed book, photo, or poster is the original owner, ask them to include a letter or email detailing how they obtained the item you are buying.  Have them include all supporting documents.  Examples include event tickets, receipts,  travel tickets, etc. - anything that shows the item to be genuine.

I hope these tips help you get the most emotional and financial reward from your collection.

 

February 5, 2007 Preprint Reference Added to Site

One of the items I worked on over the weekend was a page talking about preprints.  It's finished and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

I've placed a link to it in The Library and The Owlery. You can see it here.  There is one last thing I'd like to cover and that is the use of pearly colors on preprints.  The pearl color in the ink can make something look like it is a signature when it actually is a preprint.  However, these signatures still fail the luster test.  The eye has just has to determine true luster from manufactured luster.  I may have revisit after the site is up;  I'm not sure I kept photos of the poster I bought with that particular problem.

 

January 25, 2007 A New Scam in Town?

Yesterday I was contacted by someone who had seen photos of some props I used to own online.  He asked about obtaining some props and seemed very sincere, so I gave him the name of a few sellers who handle legitimate props.

He emailed me many times, seemingly desperate to get photos of props or the props themselves and he emailed me unsolicited photos of his props.

Long story short, his items were fabricated copies and the two sellers who I sent him to contacted me to let me know they thought he was just trying to gather enough information on additional props to make more fakes.

This serves as a warning that greed is still doing well in the world of Harry Potter collectibles.  This particular person seemed keen on paper props.  Be very careful if you are buying paper props.  The best come from charities and were donated by Warner Brothers.  They are documented as such.  Always do your homework.  Check on the background of the item you are interested in and make certain the facts match.

 

January 13, 2007

 

Researching Preprints

I picked up a few signed photos at the post office today.  I like to collect those little 4x6 inch (or so) signature cards that actors in the UK sign.  I have a few from the HP supporting cast.  Usually you can get them for just a few dollars.  The trick is to avoid preprints. 

When I picked up my latest little bunch of three, two of the signatures looked like they could be preprints.  I gave then the good old luster test when I got to my truck, and they once again seemed to be preprints.  However, when I ran my finger over the signature, it was not as smooth as the rest of the photo.

Spurred on by a recent email from member Stephen, I brought the photos home and got out my trusty camera.  It has a great lens and can take very close photos.  I took photos of signatures I know to be hand signed, those I know to be a preprint, and the new ones - all with diffused sunlight shining on them.  I used a photo editor to zoom in on images and crop the photos.

I was able to see distinct differences between the hand-signed and preprinted signatures.  (My new ones turned out to be fine!)   I gathered enough photos to write something up.  Look for it posted under the SIGNATURES category on out Bulletin Board or in THE LIBRARY.

Posted here is a seek peek of one thing I found to be a sure way to determine hand-signed signatures:  striations (striped patterns) in the ink.  You can see them clearly in the "R" from Richard Griffith's signature.

 

 

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