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Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
Shirrif
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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 Far more than merely a biography, it is a mine of information; much derived from unpublished material.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his excellent paper Special Collections in the Services of Tolkien Studies) the unique access he and Scull have had to unpublished Tolkien material.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

Posted on: 2009/11/18 3:28
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You drive a hard bargain – you can have it for £10 all-in – one consolation (for you) is that you do not have to hear the cries of my children, for bread...


Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
Home away from home
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Also, we have seen other reputable auction houses selling "supposed" Tolkien letters before. I think we all remember the infamous "moon-lather" letter that was being sold by Bloomsbury Auctions: http://www.bloomsburyauctions.com/detail/664/246.0

If the collectors on this site wouldn't have identified that as a forgery, it would have almost certainly sold at auction.

Collector, I still have yet to see any evidence put forth about this Higgins fellow.

Posted on: 2009/11/17 17:45


Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
Thain
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Hello Collector, and welcome to the forums!

Sorry to have been in lurk mode for the past few months (on my own website, no less!) but I am very happy that everyone has kept busy.

This has been a great conversation so far. I am hoping Collector can share some additional information or background on why you think these letters are real - have you seen the letters in person? Have you had a handwriting expert (Tolkien signature specialist) look at these particular letters?

A few of these specialist/experts have weighed in on these forums already, all on the "forgery" side of the fence. Anything helping to move the needle back towards "real" would be helpful if you can provide solid information.

Thanks all!

Posted on: 2009/11/17 12:26
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Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
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I don't really need to have Dr Higglns' existence to be confirmed - looking at the letter on ebay, and taking into account Wayne and Christina's excellent analysis, I don't believe Tolkien wrote it. That goes for the three letters at Allingtons, too.

As to whether it's a fake: I saw an interesting item on the Antiques Roadshow the other day. An expert was explaining the difference between a fake and a forgery. In his words, a fake is something which already exists and is altered to seem to be something it's not, whereas a forgery is something which is made to deceive.

To give an example of a fake in Tolkien terms, there was the case of a so-called 'signed copy' of TH which Christina Scull wrote of in her article 'Sophisticated Tolkien: Or, the Integrity of the Book'. (Tolkien Collector 23, p.23). The vendor described the book as having Tolkien's signed bookplate. In fact, the 'signature' looked as if it had been cut from one of the pamphlets from Tolkien's library. A Fake - something made up to look like something it's not.

On the other hand, the 'Higgins' letter which we're discussing seems to me to have been made in order to deceive; and I have no hesitation in believing it to be a forgery. Just my opinion.

As for the ones for sale at Allingtons: I've no doubt they're a reputable dealer, who bought the letters in good faith. But even the best of us make mistakes sometimes.

Posted on: 2009/11/17 11:34


Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
Shirrif
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"Collector wrote:

Trotter, I dont know about ebay, I never was there. But it is very dificult to fake a book or a letter from 1968, I never bought a letter/book looking a simple picture, I need to study them."

I didn't mention eBay but it is actually very easy to fake a signature or letter from 1968 and has been done numerous times. Some fakes are very convincing and can even fool hand-writing experts.

An example is the "Hitler Diaries" where three independent handwriting experts claimed that the signatures were genuine. The forger in this case went to a lot more trouble than the "Higgins" letters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler_Diaries

Look at this article about collecting Tolkien Signatures.

http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/fascimilesignatures.htm

"Collector wrote:

Garm, Dr. Higgings was the family doctor of Tolkiens family, and a personal friend. If you never heard about him....

Say no more..."

It looks like everyone apart from you is in the "never heard about him...." category. Please can you tell me where to find out any information about him that links him to Tolkien or even that he ever existed?

Posted on: 2009/11/17 7:22



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