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Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
Just popping in
Joined:
2010/2/5 6:42
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I am aware that I am not a pro in this discussion and I do not really dare to share my thought on this, but as a simple admirer of Tolkiens work your discussion touches a deep question regarding my view on Tolkiens character. My kids have seen the “water-colour letter” and they loved it. I have shown your discussion to them and they are confused.

On the one hand there is the English scholar and renown writer who receives letters from his admirers and answers them with the help of a secretary himself with lots of personal referrals to the original letter especially when children write to him, on the other hand there is a Tolkien who does not have the time to write to them and lets a secretary not only phrase and type them but lets her forge his signature under these “fake” letters.
I have had to learn that my admiration of a writer does not necessarily be mirrored in his character so I am open to your much more mature thoughts. How does the style of answering fan post give insides of a character and what does that mean in this special case.
Please forgive me to join into this highly sophisticated discussion but it touches a nerve.

Posted on: 2010/2/8 12:17


Private forum on TolkienGuide cont.
Thain
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I have had some good discussions via email with enough people that my thoughts are clarifying in regards to a private "member" forum. These are still just thoughts, so feel free to chime in and continue the conversation!

There is no such thing as 100% assurances that a member forum is "secure" and will prevent a forger from seeing what is posted either immediately or at some point in the future. Passwords can be guessed - how many of you are using a secure password for an out-of-the-way forum such as this? [Admin note, I can't tell because the database is encrypted even from my eyes.] How do I or anyone else effectively know that a regular here at some point isn't a forger trying to appear innocuous for a long enough period of time to be accepted into the community? How do we know that a search bot won't find a way past the (currently effective) barrier that prevents them from caching and sharing what is behind the member wall?

Also, as evidenced by W&C's article for the LOTR Plaza, there is value in having these discussions in a public forum - there is educational value both for buyers and sellers in knowing that fakes are out there, and knowing where to come (or who to ask privately) before making a big financial decision.

My heavy preference at this time is to have the conversations in public (the regular forums), and the experts filter themselves to what they feel is appropriate in such a venue. If they are not willing to share something such as a scan in a public forum, but are willing to share it privately, then email or other one-to-one (to more than one if desired) makes the most sense. Providing the illusion of privacy that can falter at any time does not make much sense to me now that I have thought about it more and discussed it with others.

Posted on: 2010/2/8 11:36
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- Jeremy


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
Thain
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Just a quick note, I am going to continue the current embedded thread concerning the "member forum" somewhere else, just so it doesn't get too confusing here.

Thanks W&C and Beren for the enlivening discussion! I can see both sides, and have no opinion myself. I can't wait to hear if one or the other of you change your minds based on the evidence shared between you, but don't have any expectation that there is enough of a preponderance to effectively "answer" the question at hand.

Posted on: 2010/2/8 11:24
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Re: Should TCG formally join other organizations?
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I am aware that my opinion counts for nothing. This is my sixth post, and the last five are of no importance. I do however often read what is being posted and find the opinions expressed, and the info shared, very interesting. I plan to start participating more, just need to find the time.
If anything, I think the Tolkien Collector's Guide should become a Smial of The Tolkien Society. If for nothing else it has an official air to it. However I think TCG would be best kept as it is.
To the close community of members of this site it may not mean anything either way, although from my position the independentness of this site is somewhat attractive. If anything I think this site has the ability to further evolve and become something that is on the list to become involved with, next to The Tolkien Society, and The Mythopoeic Society; although it would be a shame to lose the intimacy that the TCG has. Of course for this to happen people like me would have to put there arse into gear and become involved.

Just my opinion.

Posted on: 2010/2/8 8:52


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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But I believe it is mainly caused because of the many 'fakes' that are being thrown on the market almost on a weekly basis.

We weren't aware that fakes were showing up that frequently. It would be useful to note them on this site as they come to your attention.

I came to the conclusion that at that time Tolkien did use his fountain pen in almost all occasions where he wanted to sign 'personal' letters and books.

Almost all, yes, but not all. We would not, anyway, consider the letter to the Fourth Class necessarily 'personal' but part of the business of being a popular author.

I hope soon to find all the elements I see consistently repeated in these secretary signed letters on for example a handwritten book or a handwritten letter.

By 'secretary signed letters' we assume that you mean signed letters typed by a secretary, as it is not yet proven that any secretary signed any of Tolkien's letters. And again, you can't expect consistency when circumstances constantly change. Tolkien had written to Rayner Unwin on 28 May 1964 that arthritis was affecting him more and more; this didn't prevent him from handwriting letters with his fountain pen, but one has to take into account that a square-nibbed pen requires finer control than a ballpoint pen and can be more tiring to the hand. Also, Tolkien may have been more willing to use his fountain pen when there only one letter to sign than when there were several and his secretary was waiting to fold and post them. (Ballpoint/biro of course doesn't need much time to dry.)

Up to the moment I do, I believe I need to keep the theory open and the more I put these early secretary letters next to each other (and see these are 'remarkable' consistent) it either means Tolkien used two distinctive different autographs in the same period (a fast and a more carefully (or personal) one) or when I see other 'fast' signatures from the same period which are in fact much closer to his 'early flowing' signature there was in fact a time when some secretary copied his autograph.

In this you should be careful not to find consistency or pattern because you expect to find consistency or pattern.

I'll leave it open for now and don't feel like that it would be a good idea to start posting examples here (because I'm afraid of getting more fakes), but it might be a good idea if for example I could one day 'show' Christina & Wayne why this thought is growing on me.

As an alternative to posting scans here, you could give a list of examples of letters with ballpoint signatures which we could compare against our own file and information about Tolkien's several secretaries. Of the over 200 examples you've seen, which you believe to have been both signed and typed by a secretary, how many appear in each year? What are the earliest and latest examples? Which are the best examples in between? Any data of this sort could be useful.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2010/2/8 6:09



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