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Old 04-01-2004, 04:24 AM   #1
Araswooon
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Silmaril LOTR First Editions at Auction.

I see first edition copies of The Lord of the Rings were sold at an auction in Edinburgh yesterday. They were personally signed by JRR Tolkien himself. And they were sold for.... wait for it..... 2,100!!! What a bargain. I'd have paid double that for them. What would you have paid? How much do you think such treasures are worth??
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Old 04-01-2004, 05:48 AM   #2
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That sounds very cheap for signed first editions, particularly at auction when Tolkien's popularity is at an all-time high. Normally when deciding on a value, one would consider the condition of the books, any special features (such as an inscription by the author or any unusual provenance), and whether the volumes are true first editions (those from the first impression) or later printings.

When looking at the condition of the volumes, a collector would be considering whether the binding is original or has been replaced along with its condition, the state of the dust jackets and whether they have been trimmed to remove the price. The condition of the pages themselves would also be considered (no fading or discolouration; no split, torn or dog-eared edges).

One batch of the first impression of The Return of the King has some slipped text caused by a printing error, which is a feature notable in a number of the copies that I've seen for sale on the internet. Features like this tend to endear books to collectors for their scarcity value, but if each volume of a set were from the first print run of the first impression of the first edition, then one might expect those copies as a set to be worth more than the signed copies mentioned above even unsigned, given good condition.

The most expensive first-edition set I've seen was a very early trio of first impressions in near immaculate condition, signed by Tolkien and in a purpose-made gilt case. Inside The Fellowship of the Ring was an unpublished letter from Tolkien to W.N. Beard at Allen and Unwin in which he complains about the corrections to his spelling ('dwarves' to 'dwarfs', etc.). That piece of Tolkien memorabilia, which is still for sale as far as I can tell, would set the determined collector back some 27,000 (US $51,333). Of course it's worth every penny of that.

I'm currently in the process of negotiating for an unsigned first-edition set of The Lord of the Rings for a much more modest price. You can pick up tenth and twelfth impressions in reasonable condition for less than 600 given a bit of luck.
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Old 04-01-2004, 12:45 PM   #3
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I would pay everything I own for that! They say that the first edition of Lotr was different from what we know now... alike to the hobbit and how it changed... If you have read the Biography of Tolkien will know of this.

If anyone knows what is different about it that would be something worth discussing.
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Old 04-01-2004, 01:23 PM   #4
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There are minor differences between the first edition and the later ones for LotR, but nothing so drastic as what happened in The Hobbit where the scene between Gollum and Bilbo totally changed.

As a librarian who's worked in archives and special collections, I do enjoy collecting interesting editions of some of Tolkien's works (as well as some other writers I enjoy). I think this is a good time to point out that not everything is quite so pricey as the earliest printings of the LotR in pristine condition. I am not as fussy as a "real" collector would be. Some of my books are library copies; others private ones in fair to excellent condition. I don't see this as an inventment: I just love the older books.

Over the years I've picked up a lot of titles in strange places! I've found first editions of HoMe, Easton Press, and the folio series lurking in garage sales, used bookstores, and library sell-offs. Last year, I spent considerable time hunting on e-bay and managed to piece together a set of LotR, first U.S. edition, later printing, for minimal cost. You have to be very patient and pick the right time, but it can be done.

If you look carefully, you can also find early editions of Tolkien's minor works illustrated by Pauline Baynes at a reasonable price: Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles, etc.. One of my favorite stories is when I nabbed up an old poster of Bilbo's Last Song, published in the U.S. for just $3.00 because no one realized that it was a first edition of the poem. (The one printed by Allen & Unwin in GB actually came out several months later.) Some people I've corresponded with collect softcover books which you can pick up here and there for just a few dollars. They have an amazing collection of different cover illustrations that are fun to look at.
(I've also collected calendars since 1974.)

It takes patience and time, but it can be fun if you like this kind of thing. (Some people do, and others can't stand it!)

If I had a ton of money, I wouldn't buy a pristine first edition LotR. Instead I would buy a first edition Hobbit -- the one before Tolkien did his revisions.
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Old 04-01-2004, 02:14 PM   #5
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The first edition of The Hobbit is indeed the one to watch, and I've been intrigued by the original version of Bilbo's encounter with Gollum ever since first I heard of it. A friend of mine works in a shop where one was sold recently, but they're much harder to come by than LoTR, largely owing to being twenty years older. My main interest in the first edition of the later work is the maps, which to my knowledge have never since been printed as full-colour fold outs.

When I was checking the price I'd been offered I saw a leather-bound folio first edition of The Hobbit selling for more money than I'm ever likely to have to spend on a book. Rummage sales and second-hand shops are certainly a good place to find the rarer books, but as Child has said it does require a lot of patience and a sharp eye. Some of us are just spendthrifts, preferring to lay out more money on a certainty than to spend years on the chase. The chase is probably a lot more fun, though.
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Old 04-01-2004, 11:16 PM   #6
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The Eye Holy Pi...

I actually have the first edition of The Hobbit, the unedited one, from before the publishing of FotR! OMG. (I've never said that before.) I had no idea that it was actually worth so much! *hyperventilating*wow!
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Old 04-02-2004, 01:16 AM   #7
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What sort of condition is it in?
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Old 04-02-2004, 06:34 AM   #8
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Pipe

Tell us about the differences in "Riddles in the Dark" chapter in your book. (please! ) I can't believe you have this copy!! How exciting! How did you come upon it? Geez, I LOVE collecting!
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Old 04-02-2004, 07:30 AM   #9
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Silmaril

Liriodendron,

I do have a suggestion for anyone who would like to read the Hobbit story in its original form but doesn't have the money to pay for the first edition. Just get hold of The Annotated Hobbit which was edited by Douglas Anderson. It shows both the current chapter Riddles in the Dark, and the original one.

You can find this on Amazon, and I've seen it used on e-bay for about ten dollars.

Child
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Old 04-02-2004, 09:54 AM   #10
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Tolkien

I picked up a really nice quality 1st edition hardback of the Silmarillion - with JRRTs original dust cover art and a really big fold out map of Beleriand- a couple of weeks ago, from Oxfam (a charity store), for 3. Its probably not worth that much, but I couldn't believe my luck then, and still can't now.
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Old 04-02-2004, 10:45 AM   #11
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Child of the 7th Age
Liriodendron,

I do have a suggestion for anyone who would like to read the Hobbit story in its original form but doesn't have the money to pay for the first edition. Just get hold of The Annotated Hobbit which was edited by Douglas Anderson. It shows both the current chapter Riddles in the Dark, and the original one.

You can find this on Amazon, and I've seen it used on e-bay for about ten dollars.

Child
Oh! I've seen that, and have seriously considered purchasing it. The scale just tipped! Thanks
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Old 04-02-2004, 12:33 PM   #12
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My Great granddad was a Tolkien fan, he had a second edition of the hobbit, it has the old Gollum story in it, the book itself is in awful condition as my G-granddad took it everywhere with him. My Granddad paid little attention to it until I became a Tolkien fan, so it did not get too badly damaged in the years he had it. I have taken it to someone who could price it, he said that depending on who was there it could fetch around 100 (That’s $180 for all you Americans) but that is only because of the fact that the spine is quite frayed.

As I was saying, the Gollum part is much different. When you read it, you see how the new version doesn’t seem to fit to Tolkiens style in the previous chapters. I only noticed this when i read it, the newer version seems darker, and Bilbo's character is more deceitful, you don’t feel as sorry for him as you do in the old version. Any way, I will read that part again to refresh my memory at some point and post any thing that is interesting.
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Old 04-02-2004, 10:18 PM   #13
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Silmaril

I have an American 1st edition of The Silmarillion. At least I think it is. I remember seeing it in the university bookstore and thinking, "Oh, wow! It's a Tolkien book! I think it's time I got back into his stuff!" I first read The Hobbit & LotR when I was 14 & once more before college; I was in early 20's when I saw The Silmarillion. I am now 51 and have been reading The Hobbit & LotR ever since I saw & read the Sil--although it took me a couple of go's before I got past the 1st 60 pages . I just finished maybe my 6th re-reading (alternative audio & print versions) a couple of months ago. It's dust cover is banged up, but the pages inside are solid. At least I think they are. It's packed away for safe keeping.

Did anyone find out about the condition of the books that started this thread?
This thread certainly belongs in this topic! How lovely to be talking about such things among all you beautiful dead people out there in the light!
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Old 04-02-2004, 10:45 PM   #14
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I am not really one of those people who would like a first edition copy. I really would just enjoy a very nice copy (that is maybe kind of old), of LOTR. Right now I finally have a hardback set, after having just had a paperback movie cover one for the longest time. The ones that really interest me though are the paperbacks, they have some of the most interesting cover artwork. There is actually this one that is at my library at school, it is a 1970's something copy of ROTR, which has the most interesting interpritation of Aragorn that I have ever seen. I actually feel a greater fondness towards the paperbacks because they are the ones that I first came in contact with (1960's something paperback of FOTR at Middle School, not in the 60's though because I am only 18), but I have not yet actually gone out there and bought any.

I have heard that you can find them, but at this time they can sometimes be hard to find because of the recent popularity. But I would love to find a nice copy of the Sil though (all I have is a recent mass-market paperback).
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Old 04-03-2004, 05:58 AM   #15
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I might like a first edition copy of The Hobbit if I could find a bargain somewhere, but I am not going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on it. I don't think I'd so much like a first edition copy of LotR. I'd also rather get more of Tolkien's other books first (the rest of HoMe, a copy of Letters, etc). A nice copy of LotR would be nice too - I got mine cheep on ebay and the edging is somewhat worn and part of the binding got chewed off by my dog.
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Old 04-03-2004, 05:03 PM   #16
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Wow! Davem was kind enough to pm me the different version of the climax of the riddle game. (Thank you so much Davem! ) It IS quite different. I think it gave me a bit of indigestion! I would have to read that over many, many times (to digest it properly) before deciding which version I prefer.
I was watching the BBC show "Cash in the Attic" a few weeks ago, walked away, and when I came back...they had just finished auctioning off a copy of "The Hobbit" for a healthy sum. I don't know how much, or which edition, but they were playing the "happy music" and everyone was quite pleased. I was really angry to have missed it all. Did anyone else happen to see that episode?
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