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Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???

Subject: Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
by Khamûl on 2009/11/18 3:28:51

Perhaps, collector, you are unwilling to divulge your (secret) sources on a website; particularly one you are unfamiliar with. Fine.

However in your very first post on this forum you've rudely dismissed another's opinion (Jlong, the author of this thread) stating: "if you are sceptical about these "Higgins" you have not too much idea about Tolkien’s life." And later, seemingly at everyone who has posted, and who you do not agree with: "In order to know if a Tolkien signature is original you must do a very deep study on it, any other opinion are very frivolous."

There is a valid argument that some may be less concerned about provenance than others. Everyone and anyone are perfectly entitled to purchase or collect anything baring a Tolkien signature, in the absence of any provenance, purely on "gut instinct". However signature detail aside (something nobody here is really talking about; yourself included collector), there is (claimed) provenance in this case. This is what is under discussion here; this is what is suspect; and this is when you have to avoid looking like a complete buffoon by petulantly dismissing probably the most experienced & qualified experts/scholars in this regard alive today in the field of Tolkien Studies!

Findegil (Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull) state: "We too have significant doubts about the "Higgins" letters. We've seen no evidence of Higgins, as Tolkien's doctor, friend, or otherwise, outside of the letters offered on eBay." This remark alone carries great weight and should not be lightly dismissed, unless other evidence (which you are very certain of) is known to you to support your (implied) counter claim(s). (Which you have made no effort to explain or justify.)

To make clear collector: Hammond & Scull have published the most comprehensive biography of Tolkien (Companion & Guide) to date. Far more than merely a biography, it is a mine of information; much derived from unpublished material. In The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004, Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder, Hammond fleshes out at some length (in his excellent paper Special Collections in the Services of Tolkien Studies) the unique access he and Scull have had to unpublished Tolkien material. (Although this is not the purpose of the paper.)

To give you a flavour: "...Christina and I are among the few scholars ever to examine the whole of the backs of the Marquette Tolkien Papers..." Not only do Hammond & Scull have intimate knowledge of Tolkien Collections both in America (Marquette University Library) and the UK (Bodleian Library), but they have had access to archives at HarperCollins that few have.

Their studies have involved the minute and painstaking examination of Tolkien's handwriting (not properly under discussion here; but they state, in regard to the signatures "with these too, though, we have our doubts") & the mining of all conceivable sources for information about, and pertaining, to Tolkien's life. Add to this the fact that (collectively) they probably have one of the largest Tolkien collections in private hands (at least in the US; and probably excepting, only, the Swiss family who have been purportedly amassing a huge collection of rare Tolkien books; bankrolling it with large sums of money) & have been collecting for many years; and you have two people I'd (personally) listen carefully to.

If you do not feel that their comments (and the comments of other not inconsiderable contributors to this site) carry any weight -then so be it. You are unlikely to receive any friendly discussion tho'. (And, to add to this, you have discussed very little anyway.)

BH