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The Last Bookshop

April 16, 2013 — Urulöké (Views: 13913)

If you have twenty minutes to spare for a nice fictional short film about the last bookshop, I quite enjoyed this. The Hobbit makes a brief appearance (non-speaking role) - can you find it?

Be sure to visit their website at http://thelastbookshop.wordpress.com/ if you are interested in the film, the shops used, etc. Quite a nice effort and well worth watching I think. A bleak view of what might come to pass if the world continues with certain trends.

Tolkien signature/books for auction from Doyle New York, April 23

April 15, 2013 — Urulöké (Views: 12845)

Tolkien Peyton Moss signed letter 1967

Doyle New York (auction house) has a combined book set/signed letter going up for auction next week. There are certain issues with this auction that may keep the lot from realizing the estimate, since the signed letter is emphatically taped into the books, which are second edition copies and have some minor issues - "good overall" is not inspiring, if they are using the technical definition of "good" condition. I think they are using layman's terms meaning "it looks good" rather than meaning that the books fall between "Very Good" and "Fair" condition. Hard to tell, and I would suggest seeing the books and letter in person if you are considering bidding.

Still, not a letter that I believe has shown up before. No content to speak of but it appears to be a nice signature specimen.

Rare Books & Autographs - Sale 13BP01 - Lot 238

Estimate $2,000-3,000
[UPDATE] Sold for $2,250 (Includes Buyer's Premium)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 10am

The Lord of the Rings comprising The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. London: George Allen and Unwin, (1966-66-66). The first printing of second edition (with "Second Edition 1966" on the copyright page with no other printings listed), with a typed letter signed affixed to the front pastedown. Three volumes, publisher's red cloth in original dust jackets. 8 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches (22.5 x 15 cm); with three maps bound at end of each volume. The letter affixed with clear tape to the pastedown but otherwise fine, jackets with chips to tips and extremities, short closed tear into one front panel but good overall, the volumes sound. With a letter of authenticity from Lion Heart Autographs.
The letter present here, on one sheet of Tolkien's stationery, is dated 2 January 1967 and presents an American autograph seeker with "three signatures for your son/Yours sincerely, [signed] J.R.R. Tolkien". The second edition of Tolkien's trilogy was needed to close a loophole in its American copyright, which had the book in the public domain allowing a pirated paperback edition to be been released in 1965. Excited at the prospect of this new edition, Tolkien wrote an updated forward and heavily revised and corrected the text.

Tolkien signed letter for auction online at RR Auction

April 15, 2013 — Urulöké (Views: 10613)

Tolkien Hicks signed letter 1966

RR Auction has a typed letter signed by J. R. R. Tolkien up for auction, going to sudden death bidding on April 17th.

RR Auction item #689, Tolkien TLS [Update - completed items have a different URL, the link to the left will no longer work] RR Auction completed item #689, Tolkien TLS

The current accepted bid is $2040 (17 bids so far) with two days remaining.

UPDATE: The letter sold for a final bid of $3,259.20. With the 20% buyer's premium, this means someone paid $3911.04 for this letter.

Previously, this letter was offered for sale by University Archives for $3,900 back in 2008 (see this TolkienGuide post from Findegil, though the item link there is no longer valid.)

TLS, one page, 5.25 x 7, blindstamped personal letterhead, January 12, 1966. Letter to an admirer. In full: “Thank you very much for your birthday greetings. I am, in fact, writing more about the world of The Lord of the Rings, though the time I have to spare, which is not much, is much cut into by my correspondence. I am herewith sending back to you the pictures you kindly let me see. Some of them interested me; none of them enraged me.” In fine condition, with a few light creases. Tolkien’s stories grew to be extremely popular by the 1960s, leading him to be inundated with fan mail. However, he continued to write, publishing The Tolkien Reader and The Road Goes On in the years following this letter. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

eBay antique dealer faked signatures of public figures

October 25, 2012 — Trotter (Views: 56814)

Update: Mr Formhal's got 10 months in prison. He got off very lightly.

"Southampton Crown Court heard that Formhals, of Keyhaven Road, Milford-on-Sea, was in poor health and suffering from high blood pressure and arthritis.

Imposing the jail term, Judge Peter Henry said the fraud was widespread, planned and significant profit was made from it, but he took into account Formhals's bad health and reduced the sentence.

''It's always sad to see a person of 66 years of age convicted by a jury of a serious fraud particularly as you have no previous convictions,'' he said.

''It must be made perfectly clear that those who are tempted to indulge in this type of fraud, particularly over the internet, must understand the consequences.''


An antiques dealer accused of selling books signed with fake signatures of famous figures on eBay has been found guilty of some of the charges he faced.

Allan Formhals, 66, of Milford on Sea in Hampshire, was found guilty of eight counts of fraud and two of possessing articles for the use in fraud but was cleared of two counts of fraud.

The jury at Southampton Crown Court are still deliberating on three counts.

The charges related to signatures from the likes of Churchill and Picasso.

Mr Formhals was too ill to appear at court earlier.


The 66-year-old was found guilty of two charges of being in possession of articles for the use in fraud which included forged autographs of JRR Tolkien.


Antiques dealer in court case over forging signatures of Churchill, Oliver Cromwell, J.R.R. Tolkien and Elizabeth I

October 9, 2012 — Trotter (Views: 60825)

Allan Formhalls

An antiques dealer duped unsuspecting collectors by forging the signatures in books of famous writers like Sir Winston Churchill and Robert Louis Stevenson, a court heard today.

Allan Formhalls found the books and magazines in car boot sales and a recycling centre, added the signature and then sold them on eBay as the real thing, Southampton Crown Court heard.

He made thousands of pounds defrauding collectors from as far afield as Texas in the US after also lying about the provenance of the items, the court was told.

Police found the forged signatures of Oliver Cromwell, Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette among others when his home was searched, prosecutors said.

The 66-year-old is accused of selling 68 items bearing Churchill’s alleged false signature at a cost of £10,000 to one collector, Kim Taylor-Smith.




Lost articles

September 25, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 63446)

The last few months of news articles were modified to spam content, and I am currently not able to replace them from backup. I am in the process of making sure that the site is locked down a little better, but there have been instances of valid user accounts posting spam so

Change your password for your account if it is something simple to guess.
Change your password on other sites if you use the same password here.

Hopefully we can keep TCG up against this current onslaught! I may have to disable new account creation for a little while, if I see a need for that. Please email me if you see anything strange on the site, and I will be emailing some of you if I think your account has been compromised.


UPDATE: all articles have been replaced (by hand, from the RSS feed cache) and backed up again. Fingers crossed, [this] hole is plugged!

Hobbit to Hero: the Making of Tolkien's King Book Launch

August 9, 2012 — Trotter (Views: 26642)

Hobbit to Hero: the Making of Tolkien's King

ADC Books are staging a new book launch on Saturday 11th August 2012 from 10am till 5pm at the Redesdale Hall Moreton in Marsh Gloucestershire GL56 0AW, Elizabeth Stephen will be signing copies on the day of her book "Hobbit to Hero: the Making of Tolkien's King". Stalls covering Tolkien and other books on sale, Tolkien art by Ted Nasmith, Jewellery and Memorabilia.


Beyond Bree 2013 Calendar: Evil in Middle-earth

July 20, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 29113)

Beyond Bree 2013 Calendar

"Beyond Bree" 2013 Calendar: "Evil in Middle-earth"
"Beyond Bree" is delighted to announce its new calendar for 2013.

It is time to shine a light on the dark creatures of Tolkien’s world with this breathtaking collection of international art featuring:

Anke Eissmann, Sylvia Hunnewell, Tim Kirk, Octo Kwan, Nancy Martsch, Jef Murray, Ted Nasmith, Colin Williams, Maciej Wygnanski, Patrick H. Wynne and more!

The colour and black & white calendar will have both Middle-earth dates and real world holidays. It will be 11 x 8 1/2 inches, opening to 11 x 17 inches.

Pricing: $20 plus shipping - USA $2.00, the rest of the world $5.00.
For PayPal orders please add $1.00.

Per Procurationem Letter by Tolkien

June 12, 2012 — Morgan (Views: 37065)

Per Procurationem 19 april 1972
Sold by Bukowksis (Stockholm):

19 april 1972. Type-written letter from the author to a reader. Folded, some sun-fading, light foxing. Page size: 22.5 x 15.5 cm.


The book hyper-collector vs. ABEBooks Wants

May 31, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 25546)

The world of book collecting has evolved over the last decade or so as the Internet has had ever greater impact on supply and demand. Various websites and services have emerged that help the dealer and the collector in various ways, and in the process have upended markets and destroyed the "value" of most books, or rather, exposed the fact that there are many more copies of certain books than there are readers+collectors+dealers combined.

For these common editions, prices have effectively gone to zero - a penny on Amazon, the minimum $1 (US) for listings on ABEBooks.com. I can only assume that sellers hope to make a sliver of profit on the shipping.

But what about the more scarce titles that are not in abundant supply? Titles and editions that a collector may have run across once a decade in a dealer catalog or at a book fair in years past, will sometimes show up every few months online, as dealers list their stock - often not even knowing what they have or why collectors might be interested. For most titles that fall into this "scarce" category, it is merely a matter of having a price limit and knowing where to look. Even for a title as rare as Songs For The Philologists, of which only fourteen copies are speculated to survive, there is one available for sale right now if you have the money.

As a collector myself, paying top dollar for something that clearly no-one else is willing to pay (that Songs has been available online for over a year now, and I am sure most online Tolkien collectors have run across it at least once and obviously not bought it) is not a wise use of my money, and frankly not fun. Finding that scarce title within my budget and beating all the other collectors to it is a part of the thrill of the hunt!

We recently had a particular scarce title show up on ABEBooks, and multiple members here all tried to buy it. How the actual sale went down is a different story (and as incomplete, as far as I know - we still don't know who ended up with the book) but regardless, the frenzy itself sparked my interest in figuring out how the system works and how to take advantage of it - in this case, ABEBooks want notifications.

As a hyper-collector myself (for the definition of which, I leave this website as evidence), it is important for me to stay on top of the marketplace I am interested in. ABEBooks offers a useful tool, where any account holder can register a "want" - I can define any number of parameters such as author, title, description keywords, date ranges, condition, presence of dustjacket, etc. Then, whenever a seller uploads a book that matches my criteria, I receive an email telling me that the book is available and giving me a link to go purchase the book immediately if I am so inclined.

Sounds great! On April 16th at 7:48 PM, I received a want notification from ABEBooks telling me that a copy of A Spring Harvest was available and at a great price. I immediately (as in, within seconds) tried to purchase the book, but was disappointed to see that it was already sold according to ABEBooks.com. These things happen, and sometimes I win the race. It wasn't until other people started posting here in the TCG forums about also missing out and a conversation started, that it became clear that some of us had received our notifications almost two hours earlier (corrected for timezone differences, yes). What was going on?!

With many thanks to the community here and the data they provided along with answers from ABEBooks technical staff and a few weeks of research myself, I have been able to draw the following conclusions about the behavior of ABEBooks wants and give hints for bettering your odds to those of you for whom an hour or two difference is critical.

When you create a want at ABEBooks, it assigns that want a number identifier. I just created a want today (May 31st) and it was assigned the Want ID of A505070632. All wants start with the letter A, and then a large number (in this case slightly over 505 million). These Want ID numbers are created sequentially as new wants are submitted to the system. One would think that this means that there are over 505 million wants in their database, but there is a large gap in the number sequence (unconfirmed by ABEBooks but obvious from external analysis). From the original numbering scheme (apparently starting at A1) the largest want I have in my personal list is somewhere just over 20 million. Then the numbering jumps to 500 million and goes up from there. From this, I estimate that there are somewhere less than 30 million wants currently in their system - including deleted wants since numbers are not re-used, so the actual active want count is probably much less than that.

ABEBooks Want Notification Chart

Looking at the chart above, you can see that for this particular book that matched wants, there were three different batches of emails sent out - one at approximately 6 PM, one around 6:45, and the third at 7:48 PM. I was one of those in the third batch. Clearly, having a lower Want ID is better if you are competing with other collectors.

I ran multiple tests with identical search criteria, one with a Want ID around 20 million, one with a Want ID around 504 million. In every case, there was at least 45 minutes difference, and sometimes over an hour difference in when the two email notifications showed up. With the help of the TCG community, I was able to confirm that the exact criteria in a want does not matter (some matched by author name, some by title, some with dates, some not, etc.), just the Want ID.

Note that ABEBooks does allow you to create and/or change your Want ID to anything you like. However, this does not modify the A# assigned by ABEBooks, and has no effect on when your notification may be sent. If you have changed the default Want ID and want to know what your A# is, go to abebooks.com, click on "My Account" then find the "My Wants" link (which is http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/WantMaintList?ph=2 ) then look in the "Update this Want" or "Delete this Want" links below the want you are interested in - the link will look like .../WantMaintUpdatePL?wantId=50xxxxxxx&searchType=...

The main lesson I have learned from this analysis, that can hopefully help out you fellow collectors the most is this - you can modify a want at any time, and not lose your A# priority. Never delete an old want! Save that low A# for a future book you are looking for, and jump closer to the head of the email queue for notifications. I have done this multiple times now in the process of testing out the system and investigating various theories and have had no issues at all.

For those of you just getting started on ABEBooks, perhaps you can bribe a fellow collector to set up an email filter and forward you emails for one of their low A# wants they are not using - I can just imagine a secondary economy of renting Want IDs to those of us crazy enough to want to get into that first batch of emails!

Many thanks to those of you who provided data for me in this analysis, it was much appreciated! May you all get copies of A Spring Harvest at a great price sometime soon!

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