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Re: Collecting and sales
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These are all good points. There are indeed more inexperienced sellers out there, Khamûl; anyone can pay to be on abebooks, or wherever, and be listed just the same as the pros. But their poor descriptions, lack of detail about condition or jacket, etc. often (not always) give them away. As for prices, by rights those should have moderated again by now, but many sellers still think the market is hot and they'll make a killing. Some specialist secondary works are at least genuinely scarce, but even so, the goal of anyone in the book business is to sell, and generally that means pricing according to one's market in order to have a good cash flow.

Wayne has sometimes told the story of reading a catalogue years ago with great Tolkien material, from which he bought a couple of the more moderately-priced items, and the dealer rang him up to ask about his interests. Wayne pointed out that no serious Tolkien collector he knew, and he knew most of them, could afford the higher prices, but the dealer said he was trying to push the market, that he had bought high at auction to push up after-auction prices, and was willing to hold firm until he got what he was asking -- and would put his kids through college on the proceeds. Before long, the leftovers from the catalogue were themselves put up at auction, and the dealer lost on the exchange.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 1/2 19:46:06


Collecting and sales
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As many of you will know, we're preparing a new edition of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide for publication in September. One of the articles in the Reader's Guide component is "Collecting and sales", about the collecting of Tolkien's works and "Tolkieniana", with general comments about sales and prices. We want to bring this up to date for 2016/17 - ten years or so after our first edition - and wonder if anyone here would care to suggest current trends in collecting, notable events or sales, etc., indeed any thoughts at all.

Examples of aspects and questions, by no means exhaustive:

The continuing (comparatively) high prices for Tolkien books that are very common in the market, even for later printings, copies with damage, etc.

The increase in special "collector's editions", e.g. by HarperCollins, and the fact that these aren't necessarily limited editions.

The increase in variant trade editions, as when HarperCollins publishes a paperback in both mass market and trade paperback size.

The muddying of the Tolkien autograph market by forgeries.

Has the number of Tolkien collectors grown worldwide?

Did the films encourage more people to collect, and have they stayed with it once the publicity faded?

Are collectors specializing more, rather than being "completists"?

How has the proliferation of booksellers (amateur as well as professional) online, largely taking over from physical shops and printed catalogues, changed the face of Tolkien collecting?

Thanks,

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2016/12/29 14:14


Re: BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4 Tolkien: The Lost Recordings
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We had a sinking feeling as soon as Joss Ackland began his bizarre and wholly unnecessary 'narration', but kept hoping that, well, they would finish with 'the making of Tolkien in Oxford' and get on to the 'lost recordings'. Most annoying was listening to remarks about watching the offcuts - and just how much of Tolkien, in the end, was cut and thus 'lost'? Perhaps the BBC will finally issue a DVD of the 1968 programme with 'deleted scenes'. At least Tom Shippey was incisive and entertaining, as he always is. Little of what we heard by JRRT was new, in the sense of not having been said by him somewhere else.

Looking back at the advertising for this, we see that it was accurate: what was promised was a programme about the 'search for unheard gems', and that's what we got, though of course it's not what we were meant to think we were going to get.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2016/8/7 4:31


Re: The Hill sketch
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The drawing in question has been published only in the first edition of Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien. In his foreword to the second edition, Christopher Tolkien notes the 'unfortunate error' in the first of 'an unpublished sketch' being substituted for the finished ink frontispiece of the first printing of The Hobbit; and Wayne thus described it in the Descriptive Bibliography as a preliminary pencil sketch. When we came to write J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator and were able to see the original art at the Bodleian, we found that the so-called 'sketch' was in fact a tracing Tolkien had made of the ink frontispiece to transfer its outlines to a fresh sheet, on which he made the watercolour version: see Artist and Illustrator, p. 107 and note 21, and The Art of The Hobbit, p. 31, where we describe the process. Since the tracing was neither a preliminary sketch nor finished art, but only a 'mechanical' in which there was no development, there was no point in reproducing it.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2016/7/25 4:18


Re: Printed price to determine date
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It's difficult to know what went on with that one-volume LR (and I can't think now why I didn't give it a separate entry when the imprint changed from George Allen & Unwin to Unwin Paperbacks, as it was clearly meant to be a new edition in the publishing sense, though most of the type remained the same).

Christina and I don't have what tolkienbooks.net is calling the first state of the first impression (1978) of the Unwin Paperbacks edition, but our 16th impression (1976) of the one-volume paperback has the same cover points, including the price £3.95.

We do have a first impression (1978) with the same (Baynes) cover, now with the Unwin Paperbacks device, with a printed price on the lower cover of £5.50, and also a first impression (1978) with the film tie-in cover, with the price £2.95. I think it's a good guess that the lower price was to encourage sales, building on film publicity. Our copy of this impression with a higher price is clearly narrower, which suggests that unsold copies of the first impression were later stripped and re-covered, then trimmed at the fore-edge.

We have a third impression (1979) with the film tie-in cover, with a sticker with $9.95, evidently for sale in Canada, affixed over the price panel on the lower cover; but also a copy of the same impression, not trimmed, in the Baynes cover and priced at £4.95.

Wayne

Posted on: 2016/7/10 4:46



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