[Update]: This item appears to have been withdrawn at the last moment, I assume because it failed to meet an invisible reserve.
RR Auction has a two page (both sides) handwritten and signed letter from J. R. R. Tolkien up for auction, and it is an outstanding example of his handwriting and signature. It has a postscript as well, with his shortened initials-only signature as well. The letter itself is undated, but based on the content it appears to have been written around 1956.
The letter itself was sent to Doris Sykes, an artist who had sent some illustrations for The Lord of the Rings to Tolkien and inquired if he was interested in using them for an illustrated edition. Tolkien was clearly impressed with her artwork and expressed interest in buying some himself, when finances allowed.
This is one of two letters sold at Christies in June 2013 - those two letters realized £15,000 ($23,505) at that time.
A brief extract from the letter:
“I have done nothing further in the matter, since the publishers are not at present inclined to consider any edition illustrated or more deluxe and costly than the one just issued…I have shown your drawings to other ‘readers’ & the response has been good; though most agree that the best way of doing hobbits is to make them absolutely ordinary human beings (except for a neat goatee or buskin of hair), and not too childlike, round-eyed etc.... I should be v. pleased to see any further drawings you make; though I cannot encourage any great hopes of your labour being rewarded in a practical way in the near future.”
Also, as a postscript Tolkien added the following note:
“Except that—if and when I get any money from the book after the vast costs are defrayed: I have had none at all yet—I like some of the drawings so much that I should like to consider asking you to allow me to purchase some for myself, in the event of an illustrated edition being indefinitely postponed.”
Sale ends June 18, 2014
Current bid at $5826 (as of June 5th, 2014)