|Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???|
Subject: Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
by Findegil on 2009/11/1 20:54:33
Jlong and Mithrennaith's comments about the signed copy of The Last Battle are well taken. It is indeed very unlikely that Tolkien would sign one of the Narnia books, that the same copy would also be signed by Lewis, etc. Priscilla Tolkien took up a job in Bristol in 1952, but by 1958 had left there and was attending the London School of Economics, so it's no use bringing her into the question. And yes, there's that blue ink again.
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. The particular embossed Sandfield Road letterhead appears in none of the letters we've seen from that address -- that is, the address is correct, but the stamp is wholly different in its typeface and arrangement of lines -- or in any letters other than the "Higgins" letters seen online. The fact that the same stamp is used on a "Higgins" letter which refers to Edith Tolkien's death, long after Tolkien had moved from Sandfield Road, is curious, to say the least, and not convincingly explained away as leftover stationery since Tolkien typically struck through addresses when writing from another location, and at the time of Edith's death he had printed letterheads available. The style of typewriting (position, spacing, arrangement and breaks of lines) isn't characteristic of Tolkien, and in general nothing about the "Higgins" items reflects the sense of style and balance Tolkien typically brought to his typed letters. Nor did he tend to leave off dates. The signatures may look good -- with these too, though, we have our doubts -- but the rest doesn't hold together.
Laurel's comments about the provenance badly explained by the seller, and about the supposed letter to Walter Hooper, inspired us to look at the seller's other items being offered on eBay, and a very interesting selection it is. An "abstract watercolour . . . signed Francis Bacon": yes, it's signed "Francis Bacon", but is it by the well-known painter by that name, for whom an original watercolour priced at $295 for Buy It Now would be a serious bargain? The description doesn't say so in definite terms. What about a "double sided oil on canvas . . . signed Roger Fry"? An "abstract oil . . . signed Pollock"? Two ink and watercolour works "signed Aubrey Beardsley" (that is, the legend AUBREY BEARDSLEY is written in ink on a label on the back of the frame)? A letter from the King of Samoa (which could well be genuine in itself) "owned by Robert Louis Stevenson" (the only evidence for which seems to be a separate typewritten note reading FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON)? And it goes on.
Wayne and Christina