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Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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Beren, you're trying to impose too much consistency on an activity that's inherently inconsistent. We all sign our names differently depending on what writing instrument is used, whether one is sitting or standing, what surface the paper is on, whether one is at leisure or pressed for time, the state of one's arthritis, etc. Tolkien's signature made with a square-nibbed fountain pen is clearly different from that made with a ballpoint pen (biro). In our file of letters we've found numerous signatures, certainly by Tolkien, very similar to that on the letter in question. Given this, and our feeling that Tolkien would have found a secretarial facsimile of his name dishonest, our conclusion is simply that it's a 'fast' signature, as you put it.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2010/2/7 14:47


Re: The wonders of eBay
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Mad, bad, or dangerous to know ...

Posted on: 2010/2/7 14:10
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Then in the name of the king, go and find some old man of less lore and more wisdom who keeps some in his house! - Gandalf in Minas Tirith [LR 5 VIII:70]


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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I'm not wanting to disagree with Wayne & Christina, but I'm very much convinced this is in fact a secretary letter and autograph. Why I believe it to be so is because I have been comparing many autographs of this period and over the years have become convinced that there is one group of very similar autographs (exactly like you see here) that look different from the more general Tolkien signature he used in this period. Also, the big difference is that this signature is only used on these typed signature, are always 'kind replies' and there are even examples of Tolkien signing and adding some written extra // then using his black ink flowing signature. The difference between the two groups of signatures of this period is so significant that I have come to conclude that either this was Tolkien's 'fast' signature he used when signing a lot of secretary replies or in fact a secretary signature. But when I found more letters with the same typing machine, letterhead and content without this 'fast' autograph and where Tolkien wrote in black ink some extra lines and his flowing black ink signature I am now thinking that at this period there was indeed a secretary that did copy his autograph... anyways, it is just a theory - but the more I study it the more I start to believe I'm correct.

Posted on: 2010/2/7 11:54


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Posted on: 2010/2/7 9:59


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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When did Tolkien first get a secretary to answer his mail, I always thought it was 1965 which is the year after this letter?

You may be thinking of Joy Hill, who began to help Tolkien with his fan mail by mid-1965. Christopher Tolkien has assumed that his father obtained a secretary circa December 1957. The earliest mention we have seen of Tolkien having a secretary is in a letter to Rayner Unwin of 24 February 1959. (See our Chronology, pp. 799-800.)

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2010/2/7 9:09



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