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Re: Tolkien signature
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To take this discussion further, another example of evidently the same questionable typewriting as the pieces on abebooks, with a variant of the same signature, and again only (as it appears) part of a letter, has been listed for sale at auction on 16 October; see http://www.bloomsburyauctions.com/detail/664/246.0. The same lot is also on eBay. This piece is clearly made up of extracts, occasionally with slight twists, from Tolkien's (autograph) letter to Jennifer Paxman of 26 September 1947, most recently sold by Maggs Bros. Its text is still available at http://www.maggs.com/title/AU4148.asp. Since it seems inconceivable that Tolkien either typed (and signed as if for transmittal) a variant of his letter to Miss Paxman before writing a fuller version in manuscript, or wrote (and typed with atypical clumsiness) nearly the same words to someone else who would be personally familiar with "Aunt Jane", the authenticity of the new item has to be called into question.

(Jennifer Paxman is the daughter of Colin Brookes-Smith, whose family had a close relationship with Tolkien's Aunt Jane Neave. Tolkien signed his letters to her "Ronald Tolkien" or "Uncle Ronald".)

Wayne

Posted on: 2008/10/7 20:33


Re: Tolkien signature
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The abebooks items may be genuine. But Christina and I look at them and see one red flag after the other, so many that we wouldn’t consider buying them -- if we could afford the prices, and to speak only for ourselves. The fact that the two items were in a signed book and with a handwritten letter means only that at some time they were put together: the authenticity of one item in a group is no guarantee of the authenticity of its neighbor. Each piece must be judged on its own merits. Nor does the proximity of a former owner to the Miramar necessarily say something about a letter dated c. 1943, when the earliest reference we have to Tolkien at the Miramar is for 1958.

To begin with, we find a lot to question about the signatures. In each, the J with a sort of cross bar is peculiar. The T is oddly flattened. The extension of the k seems contrived. The dots beneath the initials are more irregular than one would expect even if the signature were hurried. And the whole strikes us as lacking the spontaneity and flair that Tolkien usually put into his calligraphy in general and his name in particular. We could be wrong, but these things occur to us after having seen hundreds of Tolkien letters and signatures.

Second, there’s the typewriting. The font is a fairly standard pica, at least similar to that used by Tolkien in the forties -- the photo on abebooks isn’t good enough to make a proper comparison of letterforms -- but the fit of the characters in the letter in question is, in our experience, not to be found in anything Tolkien typed.

Third, there’s the problem that Tolkien wasn’t generally typing his letters c. 1943. In our calendar of his correspondence we record only the very occasional typed letter by him in the twenties and thirties, always on business or to a professional colleague. Almost all of Tolkien's letters, business or personal, that we’ve seen were handwritten. He was of the old school, and typewriting didn’t become a more frequent mode for him until mid-1944, by which time he was regularly typing air letters to Christopher (and that only because he could get more on a limited piece of paper with his midget Hammond typewriter font).

Fourth, there’s the curiosity of both items being on torn sheets.

Finally, there’s questionable content. In the one piece, there are more typos and misspellings than usual in a Tolkien letter, and only one corrected in manuscript. ‘Creaturues’? ‘Gandor’? ‘Shant’ with no apostrophe? ‘Of couse’? Moreover, Christopher is said to be ‘drawing some maps of the Shire’, plural, when only one of the maps he was making in 1943 (before being called up for service in July) was of the Shire proper (see Return of the Shadow, pp. 107, 200). It is known, by the way, that Priscilla typed out some of the LR chapters at about age 14: she and John say so in The Tolkien Family Album, p. 72, and we note it in Chronology, p. 257.

As for the ‘Eala Earendel’ typed quotation, if Tolkien typed this out himself, why should he go to the trouble of using a typewriter for just over one line of text? And would he really have made it ‘monnu’ when the word is ‘monnum’? This is certainly not equivalent to the card being offered by Maggs. The latter is typical of Tolkien when doing something personal -- handwritten and done with style -- whereas, in comparison, the typed quotation on abebooks is cold and impersonal. (The Maggs card first came to our attention in December 2006, too late to be included in our Chronology but it’s in our online Addenda and Corrigenda. It was a greeting by Tolkien to a postgraduate student, D.C. Levinson, whose work was on an Old English subject and which he particularly appreciated, so the quotation was apt. This was just before Christmas, but also just one month before Miss Levinson received her B.Litt. In this manuscript quotation, Tolkien correctly rendered ‘monnū’ with a macron over the ‘u’ as the abbreviation for ‘um’.)

Genuine, maybe, but suspect.

Wayne

Posted on: 2008/10/1 19:56


Re: Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull reading
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Of course, if anyone should be able to attend our talk in North Adams on the 11th, we’d be happy to see you. We’ll be reading from our Tolkien Companion and Guide for about a half hour, followed by a brief question-and-answer period.

Christina fell ill in 2006, actually, and as a result we had to cancel our participation in the Exeter conference. We had never planned to be at Birmingham in 2005, as we were then working furiously to finish The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, which had to come out that year -- and then to return to the Companion and Guide which was overdue. We don’t know yet about the Lustrum in 2011 or Loughborough in 2012.

Wayne

Posted on: 2008/10/1 19:41


Re: Tolkien signature
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Joining this thread a little belatedly:

In regard to the book sold on eBay, if the signature is genuine, Carl's explanation as to how it got into the book seems plausible. But Beren's question about why volume 4 remains, and I'm not without doubts about that signature. The dots are indeed uncharacteristic, and it seems to me that the signer had some hesitation in writing some of the letters. Not enough to discount it entirely, just to raise some warning flags. By the way, Tolkien seems not to have frequented Queen's College, Oxford: Christina and I record in our Chronology only one reference to it, a dinner there with J.A.W. Bennett in 1946. (Tolkien also dined at Queen's College, Cambridge, but that's another animal altogether.)

I have much more trouble with the two typed items noticed by Dior. The first problem is a typewritten letter from around 1943, when Tolkien was invariably, as far as Christina and I have seen, writing his letters in manuscript. The second problem is that the typewriting doesn't look like Tolkien's -- wrong font, wrong fit of letters, atypical typos, use of spaces, and margins. And then there are the signatures, with dots askew and some letters (such as T and k) which I find questionable. Also, I have to wonder why Tolkien would type out the "Eala Earendil" quotation by itself and then sign it: this wouldn't be typical of him, so adds to my suspicions.


Wayne

Posted on: 2008/9/30 19:16


Re: Hobbit Deluxe - 1987, gold, 50 anniversary - how to recognize 1st/1st
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For the sake of completeness, I should add that Tolkien Collector 13 included the following addendum to my note in the Bibliography:

Christina and I own two variants of the hardcover book club version of A3aa. The sheets of these are distinguished from each other only by the copyright page. I use the following numbers for reference only, as I can find no evidence for priority of one over the other. In variant (1), p. [iv] reads: ‘Copyright © 1966 by J.R.R. Tolkien | [notice of restrictions under copyright] | [rule] | BOMC offers recordings and compact discs, cassettes | and records. For information and catalog write to | BOMR, Camp Hill, PA 17012. | Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-8769 | ISBN: 0-395-17711-1 | Printed in the United States of America’. In variant (2), the text of p. [iv] is identical to that in (1), except that the rule and the lines ‘BOMC offers . . . 17012.’ are not present and there is no gap in the rest of the text to show that any lines have been omitted.

The ‘gold imitation leather’ in which the two trade copies are bound is textured like a heavy morocco: this has tended to make the red and green stamping somewhat rough. The two book club variants, on the other hand, are bound identically in a ‘brighter gold leatherette’, a term I seem to have chosen to suggest a more cheaply made covering -- which it is, but it is also smoother, and that has allowed cleaner stamping. The edges of the sheets are not mottled green; instead, the top edge is stained orange and the fore- and bottom edges are unstained; all edges are trimmed. Each variant has yellow/green headbands, and a slipcase with a printed label, like the trade version, except that the slipcase is covered with the brighter, smoother gold imitation leather. Each lower cover has a small square stamped in blind in the lower right corner: on variant (1) the square is 3 mm, and on variant (2) it is 4 mm.

Christina and I have seen a third binding variant, with a square stamped in red on the lower cover; but I do not have this in hand, and cannot give further details about the binding or the sheets.

Wayne

Posted on: 2008/8/29 4:24



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