Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with an adoption that supports rare books and objects  in the Library collection that date back to the fifteenth century that reveal the history behind many of the creatures, plants and other magical elements that appear in the Harry Potter series—from mandrakes to basilisks to Nicholas Flamel and the philosopher’s stone itself.

The Library's digital collection From Basilisks to Bezoars: The Surprising History of Harry Potter's Magical World is organized as a fictional study aid for Hogwarts students preparing for their important wizardry exams, the O.W.L.s, with content relating to seven Hogwarts courses. An adoption of our From Basilisks to Bezoars collection ensures the care of and access to these materials. Theme collection adoptions are available for multiple adoptions, so when you contribute towards the preservation of this collection, you join a family of adopters supporting From Basilisks to Bezoars. 

Aldrovandi's Basilisk

Aldrovandi, Ulisse. Serpentum, et draconum historiae libri duo. Apud Clementem Ferronium, sumptibus M. Antonii Berniȩ, 1640, p. 363.

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Course: Defense Against the Dark Arts  
All hail the king of the snakes! Basilisks—from the Greek basiliskos, for "little king," are depicted in many early modern natural histories and were said to be the kings of the serpents (Dark Arts students will recognize them for their diadem-shaped crests). J.K. Rowling preserves many details of the accounts from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources about this terrifying snake, including his birth from a chicken's egg hatched under a toad, and a gaze that could kill. Susceptible to wizard control by some Parselmouths, only Tom Riddle proved snake-charmer enough to ever challenge one.

Adoption Price: $150.00

Pomet's Unicorn

Pomet, Pierre. Histoire generale de drogues, traitant des plantes, des animaux, & des mineraux....avec un discours qui explique leurs differens noms, les pays d' où elles viennent, la maniere de connoître les veritables d'avec les falsifiées, & leurs proprietez, où l'on découvre l'erreur des anciens & des modernes...Jean-Baptiste Loyson [etc. ], 1694, p. 9.

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Course: Care of Magical Creatures
If you visit Mr. Mulpepper's or Slug & Jiggers Apothecary in Diagon Alley, among the remedies available for a few scant Galleons is unicorn horn. In his comprehensive catalog of plants and animals used for medicinal purposes, the French apothecary Pierre Pomet identifies five species of unicorns, though he is quick to admit that most unicorn horns sold in shops are probably from narwhals.  Narwhal or not, these horns were worn as protective amulets, used to cure fevers and rout poisons. They were also displayed as curiosities in pre-Revolution-era France.

Adoption Price: $150.00

Kircher's Three-Headed Dog

Kircher, Athanasius. Musurgia universalis; sive, Ars magna consoni et dissoni in X. libros digesta...Ex typographia haeredum Francisci Corbelletti, 1650, p. 691.

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Course: Care of Magical Creatures
This engraving, found in Athanasius Kircher's two volume work on music, depicts Orpheus playing the hellhound Cerberus to sleep in order to gain passage to the Underworld. In classical sources, Cerberus was not usually so easily tamed: to the Greeks, he was a monstrous three-headed dog. A glance at Cerberus was said to petrify humans, and his bite was poisonous. Most Greek sources describe Cerberus as possessing three heads, as does Fluffy, the fearsome guard dog who blocks passage to the underground vault guarding the philosopher's stone. Spoiler alert: Harry and his friends take a cue from Orpheus's book and soothe Hogwarts' vicious pup by picking a drowsy tune.

Adoption Price: $150.00

Other books available for adoption from Books of Harry Potter's Magical World include:

Care of Magical Creatures

Ulisse Aldrovandi. Monstrorum historia. 1642.

Centaur Almanac. J.B. Ross & Co. 1874.

Hortus sanitatis. De herbis et plantis. De animalibus et repiltibus. Renatus Beck. 1517.

Conrad Gessner. Conradi Gesneri Tigurini medicinae et Philosophiae. 1585.

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Francisco Hernandez. Nova plantarum, animalium et mineralium Mexicanorum historia. 1651.

Konrad Lykosthenes. Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon. [1557].

History of Magic

Jean Bodin. De la demonomanie des sorciers. 1593.

Charles Fletcher. Chubby's Magic Book. ca 1913.

Giambattista della PortaNatural Magick. 1658.


Robert Fludd. Tomys secyndvs de sypernaturali. 1617.

Johannes Ketham. Fasciculo de medicina. 1522.

Aldus Manutius. Astronomici veteres. 1499.

Gaspar Schott. Physica curiosa. 1667.


Jean-Jacques Manget. Bibliotheca chemica curiosa. 1702.

William Salmon. Medicina Practica. 1707.


Nicholas Culpeper. The British Herbal and Family Physician. 1818.

Phillip Ulstadt. Coelum Philosophorum. 1551.

Support Books of Harry Potter's World


To find out more about books in our collection related to the Harry Potter series, please contact us at 212-822-7315 or library@nyam.org.

Disclaimer: "From Basilisks to Bezoars: The Surprising History of Harry Potter’s Magical World" is not licensed or endorsed by Warner Bros. or J.K. Rowling. Please note that multiple people are able to adopt a book in the "From Basilisks to Bezoars" collection.