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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 Far more than merely a biography, it is a mine of information; much derived from unpublished material.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his excellent paper Special Collections in the Services of Tolkien Studies) the unique access he and Scull have had to unpublished Tolkien material.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
_________________
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???
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Hello All
I have just found a photo of the 'other' letter i was offered by the 'Higgins' letter seller to Hooper.

At first it looks ok and ties in well with letter 291 in Tolkiens letters. But i notice the D in Dear is in capital whereby i thought Tolkien used a lower case in such context. Also the writer writes as is Lewis is alive ?

Am i analysing too much ? Comments appreciated for guidance in future.

Thanks

Attach file:



jpg  P1050557.JPG (143.59 KB)
497_4b03dcf6193e6.jpg 640X480 px

Posted on: 2009/11/18 4:39


Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
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Look like another wrong 'un to me.

Posted on: 2009/11/18 6:11


Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
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Again, regardless of what anyone might say about the authenticity of the signature or content, this letter just seems too similar to the Higgins letters. All of these letters have similar paper, similar bold black signatures, and all contain rather similar signs of aging.

If the Hooper of this letter is, in fact, Walter Hooper, I imagine that he is probably the best authority on this letter, considering he is still alive. If it was never sent to him, as I imagine that is going to be the story, the provenance of the letter is certainly questionable.

It also seems noteworthy that although the Higgins letters look exactly like this Hooper one, at least one of the Higgins letters was not composed around the same time. This letter was purportedly written in 1966 and one of the Higgins letters mentions Edith's death, so at the earliest, it was written in 1971. This doesn't necessarily mean the letters aren't authentic, but it seems rather strange given the similar look of the letters.

Well, those are my initial thoughts.

Posted on: 2009/11/18 13:35


Re: Tolkien Signatures on eBay???
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I think that everyone (except for collector) is on the same page regarding the dubious authenticity of these Higgins/Hooper letters. Like others have posted, if Wayne and Christina have doubts, it's hard not to take those doubts very seriously indeed. I'm sure that they have forgotten more about Tolkien than I will ever know. That collector isn't aware of the high regard that their opinions are held in, suggests that he (or she) needs to do some study in the area.

However, other people's options aside, there is just no logic to the existence of these letters. It just makes no sense to me that Tolkien would write all these letters to different people at different times, using the same typewriter and paper, signed in the same pen and ink, and then not bother to post any of them (and have them all age in the same rather 'forced' way). It's definitely not impossible, but it is certainly highly improbable.

On a related subject, we often see certificates of authenticity from so-called "experts" coming along with these kinds of items. Am I the only person that considers these to be completely and utterly worthless? For me, the only thing that can really provide much confidence in an item, is if it (a) simply 'makes sense', (b) has a *verifiable* history and (c) matches other *verified* exemplars.

That said, I'm happy to provide a certificate of "Non-Authenticity" (for a fee, of course) for these letters, as they seem to fail horribly on all counts.

Cheers
Stu

Posted on: 2009/11/18 17:36



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