From the Elder Wand to the Sorting Hat to the Sword of Gryffindor, the wizarding world was full of magical objects with long, complicated histories. But what can objects that were specifically passed down within families tell us about the people they belonged to? Let’s take a look at the idea of magical inheritance…

Sirius Black and Grimmauld Place

Sirius inherited Grimmauld Place – along with its collection of dark objects and his mother’s portrait – because he was the last surviving Black. This was despite deliberately cutting ties with his family, running away at sixteen and later joining the Order of the Phoenix to work against Voldemort even as his younger brother, Regulus, joined the Death Eaters.

All of which is to say that, in the Black family, inheritance followed a specific path, regardless of where that path led. Dumbledore later confirmed this, telling Harry: ‘Black family tradition decreed that the house was handed down the direct line, to the next male with the name of Black.’

This direct line was broken when Sirius died and was able to will the house to Harry, but if we assume the Blacks were typical of so-called ‘sacred’ wizarding world families obsessed with blood-status, then inheritance seems to have been focused on upholding established patriarchal norms. The fact they followed this strict hierarchy is not surprising when you think about other Black family behaviours: beheading house-elves when they died, the conviction that to be a Black ‘made you practically royal’, the insistence on only marrying pure-bloods.

So when you really look at it, the way Sirius extracted himself from his family was pretty remarkable. And while he may have hated being back in Grimmauld Place, his inheritance of that house meant he was able to leave it to Harry, which broke a lot more than an old family tradition: it ended the Black’s pure-blood line of inheritance, for good.

Harry’s Invisibility Cloak

Harry might have inherited a whole house from his godfather, but his father’s Invisibility Cloak was something else. When it was later revealed as the third Deathly Hallow – a cloak ‘that really and truly renders the wearer completely invisible, and endures eternally, giving constant and impenetrable concealment, no matter what spells are cast at it', to use Xenophlius Lovegood’s description – it became clear that the Invisibility Cloak he first used to sneak around Hogwarts held great significance. It meant Harry was related to Ingotus Peverell, the cloak’s original owner and one of the three brothers immortalised in The Tales of Beetle the Bard. It gave him, a boy who spent his formative years with Muggles, access to a wizarding world history that was literally the stuff of legend. It made him the true possessor of one of the three Hallows, a set of magical objects so steeped in mythology even Dumbledore was once obsessed by them.

So it’s probably not surprising that when Harry discovered the Hallows and realised he owned one he, too, became briefly obsessed. Reckless, even (see: shouting out Voldemort’s name when talking about the first Hallow – the Elder Wand – forgetting it was Taboo, and therefore getting himself, Ron and Hermione captured by Snatchers.) But as the Horcrux hunt continued to demand more and more, Harry soon let go of his Hallows obsession. There was even a moment when he possessed all three Hallows but in the end, the Invisibility Cloak was the only one he chose to keep. Because he understood that only the cloak was truly his.

The Gaunt family ring (including the Resurrection Stone)

Harry wasn’t the only Peverell ancestor to possess a Hallow without any knowledge of its true significance.

Voldemort’s grandfather Marvolo Gaunt lived in squalor but prided himself on his ancestry, and particularly prized the objects that underscored his family’s pure-blood status. One such object was a ring bearing what Gaunt believed was the Peverell coat of arms, which could also have been the symbol of the Deathly Hallows and certainly contained the second Deathly Hallow: the Resurrection Stone. Now, wizarding world history is long and, as Sirius once told Harry, all the pure-blood families were interrelated, so perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise to discover Voldemort and Harry were both descended from the Peverells, but it was an interesting connection.

Still, as with so many of the strange similarities between them, the way Voldemort and Harry treated those family heirlooms showed how different they were. Harry chose to keep and use his Invisibility Cloak, eventually passing it down to his son, James, as we learned in Cursed Child. On the other hand, Voldemort, apparently not aware of the Resurrection Stone, prized the ring solely for its value and status as a Peverell artefact. He stole it from his uncle Morfin, then ensured Morfin was imprisoned for the deaths of the Riddles, Voldemort’s Muggle family. And once he had the ring he didn’t put it away to treasure as an ancestral heirloom. Oh no. He turned it into a Horcrux.

Even if Gaunt would never willingly have given his half-Muggle grandson his most treasured possession, it’s clear Voldemort valued the ring for the same reasons. He saw it as a symbol of his connection to the Peverells, and that was important because it gave him an established lineage.

Harry Potter grabs the Slytherin locket from the cave.

Slytherin’s locket

Gaunt’s other prized possession was a locket that once belonged to another ancestor, Salazar Slytherin. As with the ring, Gaunt treasured it ‘…just as much as his son, and rather more than his daughter’, as Dumbledore told Harry.

And again, Voldemort followed his grandfather’s lead. He revered the ring as a high-status item. Once again, it connected him directly to someone he viewed as an illustrious ancestor – in this case, the founder of Slytherin house.

But the locket caused Voldemort significantly more trouble than the ring. After his mother, Merope, stole it from his grandfather and sold it to Borgin and Burkes, the locket was bought by a witch called Hepzibah Smith to add to her collection of rare artefacts – she also owned Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, which her family apparently couldn’t wait to get their hands on. And as soon as Voldemort heard the tale, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on both artefacts, adding Hufflepuff’s cup to his Horcrux collection, as he did with the Slytherin locket he saw as rightfully his.

And so, for a while there were two Gaunt-owned family heirlooms containing a piece of Voldemort’s soul knocking about. We don’t know exactly what happened to the locket after Ron used the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy its horrible Horcrux soul, but we doubt Voldemort would ever have passed it on in the way Harry passed his Invisibility Cloak onto James.

Lucius Malfoy’s Dark Arts collection

As one of Voldemort’s chief Death Eaters (at least, while the going was good), Lucius Malfoy shared his master’s love of a dark object, although he didn’t really treat Voldemort’s Horcruxes with due reverence. Of course, he probably didn’t know the diary he slipped in amongst Ginny Weasley’s books in Chamber of Secrets contained a sliver of his master’s soul, but for a man his son would later (in Cursed Child) call ‘a true collector... of Dark Magic’, he was a little cavalier with some items in his possession.

Perhaps that’s because Lucius Malfoy was in no doubt about his inheritance. He didn’t need objects to underscore his pure-blood lineage, he seemingly liked to collect them for their own sake. After all, if Mr Borgin’s mutterings were to be believed, Malfoy Manor was stuffed as full of dark arts objects as the Black’s home, albeit perhaps a little less cluttered.

It’s interesting, then, to think that without Lucius Malfoy’s collection of dark artefacts his son, Draco, might never have been able to team up with his old enemy, Harry, to rescue their sons and prevent the return of Voldemort. Because in Cursed Child, Lucius Malfoy’s illegally-owned Time Turner enabled Draco, Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron to travel back to 1981 and save the wizarding world. Now, what would Voldemort say about that?

Ron Weasley’s chess set

Like the Blacks and the Malfoys, the Weasleys were one of those old, established, wizarding world families. But unlike the Blacks and the Malfoys, the Weasleys did not care a jot about blood status, and their house was not stuffed full of dark artefacts (unless you count some of those Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes products.)

But that is not to say the Weasleys didn’t pass items down within the family. On the contrary, Ron arrived at Hogwarts with inherited items coming out of his ears: Bill’s old robes, Charlie's old wand, Percy’s old rat (ahem) and his grandfather’s old wizard chess set. He had issues with some of these hand-me-downs, it’s true, but the skills he developed playing with his family’s chess set meant he was able to take on Professor McGonagall’s giant chess game at the end of Philosopher’s Stone, allowing Harry to eventually find and recover the Philosopher’s Stone and securing fifty points for Gryffindor in the process.

Chess sets aside, the Weasleys didn’t have an abundance of valuable magical objects to pass on, but Ron did inherit some pretty significant things from his family. A feeling of belonging, a sense of justice, and an attitude that said everybody was welcome, no matter what their blood status. These weren’t life-altering objects or Hallowed items, but without Ron (and, obviously, Ginny)’s Weasley inheritance, it’s fair to say Harry’s life in the wizarding world would have been much poorer.